*Now featuring Ben/Summer*
(Permission given by Encyclopika)
Hello and welcome to my little collection of drabbles and one-shots! This started out at FanFiction.Net as a just a little exercise in writing relationships, extending creativity, and so on. What I wasn't expecting was to end up with a monster on my hands. What happened, you asked? The running challenge throughout this creation is for me to write a one-shot for every Pokemon pairing in existence.
Yeah, I know. Every pairing as in every pairing, cracky and canon alike. Crazy, right? I must be the bravest fool on the Internet to go through with this. Am I aware of the sheer dizzying number of named ships alone? Yes. Am I of the opinion that I probably can't hope to finish this in my lifetime? Also yes. But it's fun, and people seem to inexplicably like it, so I'll keep working at it.
I originally planned to just generate random pairings to write about, but what with people suggesting different shippings, I only got in three. So now, it's basically standard that I write based on suggestions. If you'd like me to do a particular pair, feel free to say so - but bear in mind that there's a waiting list a tad long. Not that I mind or anything. >>; Quick note: if the ship has already been written or put on the waiting list, I won't do it. Not out of spite, but because variety is the spice of life and I'm attempting to do as many pairings as possible. Edit: deciding to stop accepting requests for a while. Keep the to-do list at a manageable length and such.
Note that most of these will probably be more tongue-in-cheek and less fluffy than what's usually here. Possibly. Maybe. I think. Oh, I don't know, I'm a shipping newb. D:
Now that that's out of the way, feel free to sit back, read, and review. There's sure to be one or two that appeal to you. Then again, there'll probably be one or two that you hate. But that's shipping for you.
Spoiler:- PM list:
Spoiler:- Completed ships, listed alphabetically for your convenience:
(Will be adding more to this list when I'm not as lazy busy.)
BAMFShipping // Regigigas & Mewtwo // PG
This is entirely your fault, you know.
Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle.
Just sitting there sleeping … because obviously if you ignored them they'd eventually go away.
Are you even listening to me?
A telepathic sigh. Didn't think so.
Mewtwo rubbed his face with his hands, staring unseeingly through his bulbous fingers. That was just as well: only a long, unending expanse of white would have greeted him, anyway. Snowflakes poured down from a sky of flat, cold gray. They landed gently on the deep, eternal snow which blanketed the frozen earth; they also landed on Mewtwo's shivering frame, and he sneezed as one tickled his nose. With a scowl, he wrapped his arms around himself, hating every soft crunch his footfalls made.
His travel companion was humming obliviously, swinging its massive arms to and fro as if it actually enjoyed this hellish blizzard. Squinting in the unceasing snowfall, Mewtwo glared up at its lumbering form. It's all right for it, of course, he muttered viciously. The great lumbering buffoon. It doesn't have any pain receptors! Some glorious ancient Pokemon this is, without even a digestive system to its name. How efficient this "Arceus" being is, indeed …
If only those Galactic idiots hadn't shown up right then, right then, just as he was about to pry the truth away from the clumsy oaf. Oh, those secrets of creation and power this thing held, passed down to it by the holy llama herself at the Beginning! It had the potential to unmake the world's very foundations, and it didn't even know it. What a dreadful waste. If only those powers could be used at their full potential, by someone competent – someone like, say, himself – well, the possibilities were endless! And yet they were locked within this … this thing, never to be unleashed until the End of Days, or the day the thing gained its first IQ point, whichever came first.
He blinked, realizing he was staring at the thing hungrily. Shaking his head, he tried to focus on not stumbling in the deep snow. But still …
Primitive as this machine was, there was still something fascinating about it. Oh, most machines weren't much of an interest to him at all – some, primarily Giovanni's hellish armor, even aggravated him beyond reason – but this … it piqued a curiosity within him that he normally associated with his foolish, giggling mother. For all its mindless, useless bulk, it had never in millennia destroyed itself with the sheer power. It had never broken down, nor rusted. Its movements were as fluid as any living thing; one could almost imagine that it wasn't a machine at all.
Oh, what he wouldn't give to explore whatever mechanisms lurked within!
He blinked. The numbness creeping through his body seemed to be addling his senses.
What I wouldn't give to be able to teleport with this thing, he sighed, watching himself sink to his knees as if from a distance. Then we would … be able to be done with this … already …
A shadow fell over him as three long, huge fingers plucked him out of the snow. Wearily, Mewtwo lazily noticed that he was rapidly moving upward, before pausing before the machine's dot-like eyes.
"Cold," it droned.
Normally Mewtwo would make some snide comeback, but at the moment he was too cold and tired and miserable to say anything.
"Cold," the machine repeated. Then it cradled his stiff form to its gem-encrusted body, which seemed to actually be generating little waves of heat – testament to whatever mysterious mechanisms worked ceaselessly inside. "Help," it explained, though it probably didn't notice Mewtwo's expression of surprise. "Warm."
And so it trudged along through snow that barely covered its mossy feet.
Mewtwo, facing what passed for the thing's chest, wasn't sure what to think. The buffoon was, clearly, a buffoon, no matter how wondrous its inner workings might be … and yet …
And yet …
He sighed again, weakly tracing the lines of its chest with a stiff finger. Damn, but I'd love to see what makes it tick.
Letting himself relax in the warmth, he let drowsiness overtake him, wondering if Regigigas had a heart.
This wasn't very obviously shippy, I'm sorry. D: Regigigas is weirdly hard to ship. But rest assured the next ones will make their ships more noticeable.
Coming up next: PalletShipping.
Last edited by SugarPesticide; 29th October 2015 at 6:42 PM.
Double post :o I guess Regigigas/Mewtwo isn't anyone's cup of tea. But maybe this is ...
PalletShipping // Ash & Gary // G
I was at his proposal.
It was on a usual July evening: dark and hot, with a star or two beginning to appear in the dusky purple sky. The two of them were walking past the many booths, holding hands and sharing an ice cream cone, enjoying the festival before it closed for the night. The air was full of excited shrieks, which still puzzles me – surely the children's excitement would have run its course by now.
There was a nice little spot, a scenic arrangement of brilliantly colored flowers around a quaint old bench, situated just far enough from the rest of the festival so that people could have their pictures taken there without being disturbed by some screaming kid or something. I was the photographer there; the job paid well, and graduate study at the university didn't come cheap. Sitting opposite the bench, examining the camera, I was alerted to their approach by their footsteps. And there he was, standing there with his girlfriend, confident and bright-eyed as ever.
"Hi, Gary!" he said happily.
"Hey," I replied lamely. But what else could I say? That he'd stolen my heart years ago without even knowing it? That I spent every moment loving him? It just wouldn't do.
His girlfriend smiled at me. I don't remember what she looked like, or what she wore, or even what her name was. To me she was just a well-defined nightmare, the one thing that stood between us. It didn't seem to matter who she really was.
"Here for a picture?" I asked. "Two shots for only fifty cents. And if you want, they can be blown up to a bigger size."
I adjusted the flash intensity as they sat on the bench – or at least, she did. But he was still standing, suddenly looking rather nervous.
"I'm fine," he stammered. He reached inside his pocket, as if assuring himself that something was there. "Can you … can you time it so it takes the picture in fifteen seconds?"
I nodded, not missing a beat. People gave requests like this all the time; I knew by now that it was far from unusual.
While I pressed the timer button, he launched into some heartfelt speech about how she was the most amazing girl he'd ever met, how meeting her was the greatest thing he'd ever done, and all sorts of other things. I tried to keep my face perfectly blank, hiding the fact that I wished he were telling me those things instead.
Then he bent down on one knee, pulling a glittering diamond ring from his pocket.
"Will you marry me?"
I stared, forgetting the camera for a moment. No, he couldn't have … but he did, somehow. He was lost to me forever, belonging to that woman-shaped void …
"Oh, Ash," she sighed, "I will!" And she leaned forward to kiss him.
Just before their lips met, he glanced at me, frantically mouthing "Now!"
As they kissed, I bitterly snapped the second photo, wishing I were anywhere but here.
I was at their wedding.
There was sunlight streaming through the stained-glass windows, illuminating the altar and the front pews – but I sat near the back, in the shadows. I wore my stiffest, most formal suit, one that itched whenever I moved and forced me to sit uncomfortably still. I hadn't wanted to come, but Gramps had insisted. He claimed that, as one of the groom's oldest friends, I was obligated to attend. He didn't understand that I had long since ceased to consider him a mere friend.
The bride was veiled, invisible save for that long white dress. It appeared almost as if she were floating down the aisle. She was like a cartoonish phantom to me – a phantom that was too horribly real.
But the groom … he stood there at the altar, excited but nervous, looking like the ten-year-old I still remembered when we had initially parted long ago. His hair was all sleek for this big day. Unconsciously, I raised a hand to feel my own spiky hair. I'd never changed its style; it had always seemed to fit me, no matter my age. But now I felt an odd, uncomfortable twinge in the pit of my stomach. Perhaps he saw my hairstyle as juvenile, and associated it with some unpleasant childhood memory. Was that why he'd never been interested in me?
Did he, perhaps, consider me childish?
They met at the altar, were pronounced husband and wife, fled the church as flowers rained down on them, pursued by excited guests and their own Pokemon. I only stared ahead, unseeing, as the world rushed past.
I was at the hospital.
They had decided to call the boy Jacob. I had smiled and gushed my approval with the rest of them, keeping my true thoughts hidden behind an elaborate mask of excitement. Jacob, I remembered. Biblical origins, means supplanter. I often found myself chuckling humorlessly at the thought.
When the nurse stepped into the waiting area and announced that their friends could see the baby if they wished, she had to avoid the rush of excited family members and acquaintances. I lagged behind, unsure if I wanted to see this. The child would be part her – something I wanted nothing to do with, a random variable, an unknown.
But it would also be part him. So I took a deep breath and followed, with Umbreon at my heels, keeping an eye on me.
The delivery room was crowded, filled with hushed murmurs of awe; she was lying down, exhausted, but he held the small, blanketed bundle in his arms, delightedly showing him to each and every person and creature there. There was something new in his face, a glow that hadn't been there before. It was as if he had been waiting his whole life for this moment.
I hadn't realized it meant this much to him.
Glancing about awkwardly, I met his Pikachu's eye. It nodded at me once, a knowing look in its eye, before turning to look to his master. I frowned, confused. What did it mean?
"Gary!" He had finally noticed I was there, because in two seconds he was standing before me, the half-child lying in his arms. "Gary, I'd like something of you."
I considered this, trying to ignore the longing I felt. He had already stolen my heart, locked it away somewhere; why should I let him have a favor? Yet I couldn't refuse him. I had become numb to many things by now, but guilt was not one of them. I nodded.
"I'd like you to be Jacob's godfather," he said.
I froze, hardly daring to believe it. He ... he wanted to share his child with me?
He offered me the boy, and without thinking I accepted it from him. It was a small baby, sleeping there in that soft dark blanket. It had just a tuft of jet-black hair sticking out from its head, which was otherwise bare and pale. It vaguely reminded me of an ice cream cone.
In a way, it belonged to me. Just as it belonged to him.
I smiled, watching it breathe peacefully. "All right."
The identity of Ash's wife was left deliberately vague. Why? So the focus would remain on Ash and Gary rather than Ash and Misty/May/Dawn/Iris/sex-changed Brock. *nod*
"All right, class!" trilled Mrs. Knightly, clapping her hands together. "It's time for our Valentine's Celebration!"
Everyone quickly scampered back to their seats, gazing eagerly up at the teacher as she gazed at them fondly from the front of the classroom. They returned her unseen smile. After all, you couldn't be scared of a Dusclops in a pink dress for long.
"Everyone please get your Valentine's gifts out from your desks, and remember to put one in everyone's box before we start eating snacks. We have …" She glanced at the clock. "A whole hour before it's time to go home! So let's hand them out ..."
Pikachu retrieved a bag full of chocolates from inside her desk, which was all scribbled on. Placing her gift box on top, she frowned slightly. It had looked so pretty before, all painted pink with big fat cutout paper hearts taped on. But now it looked kind of boring compared to everyone else's. Skitty had decorated hers with lots of puffy, multicolored fuzzballs, which were arranged in all sorts of patterns. She dropped a chocolate in there, along with one of those little prepackaged Valentine's Day cards.
Skitty's valentines are probably better than mine, too, she thought sadly.
She also passed Psyduck's box, which had a collage of magazine images of people kissing each other; Buneary's, covered in confetti; and Croagunk's, colored in a dull rippling pattern of greens and browns that looked eerily like a swamp. She shook her head when she passed Piplup's, which was actually in the shape of a Piplup.
When she had finally finished going around, delivering valentines left and right, she eagerly darted back over to her box to see what she had gotten. Nice little chocolates and candies and tarts shaped like hearts, and even some of those powder candies that always made her sneeze. And of course there were loads and loads of cards, all with nice little messages and signatures. She glanced through them all happily as she munched on Valentine candy, but frowned when she finally finished.
One was missing.
She marched over to Meowth's desk, where he sat pawing through his gifts halfheartedly. His box was half scribbled on with yellow marker, as if he'd tried decorating it and had given up halfway.
"Why didn't you give me something?" she asked.
He glanced up. "Ya won't believe me, twoipette."
"I bet I will!"
She put her hands on her hips. "C'mon, just tell me."
"Fine," he sighed. "I was actually really lookin' forward ta givin' ya sometin' … but den I remembered how much ya help around wif everyone. Like da time ya helped Munchlax find his apple, or made Ambipom feel betta when she scrapped her knee, or stopped dat fight between Bulbasaur an' Sudowoodo. I wanted ta getcha sometin' betta den candy, cuz ya deserved betta, but I just wasn' able ta tink of sometin' else." His ears drooped sadly.
But Pikachu was smiling. "Aw, Meowth! Just telling me that was better than candy, thank you! But … since it was so nice, maybe you deserve something better than candy, too!"
And she snatched a chocolate heart from his box, giggling as she darted away. He leapt after her, reaching out for that candy just out of reach.
"Mrs. Knightly!" he wailed, chasing Pikachu, "she stole my heart!"
"I can see that," the Dusclops agreed, smiling as the rest of the class stared.
Yes I know Pikachu was confirmed to be male in DP142. Just go with it :P
Standing there in the lofty entrance hall of Indigo Plateau, trying to ignore the stench of dried blood, Looker Handsome considered the scene.
The boy would have been taken by surprise, of course; otherwise he would have at least tried to release a Pokemon to defend himself, even though they had all fainted. As it was, the body was slumped partly against the far wall, splayed out in all directions. Or at least, it had once been a body. Now it was little more than a slick, shredded hunk of meat with bloody, tattered clothing and shattered limbs. Clearly the killer wanted to leave even the nature of the murder itself a mystery.
He could feel several pairs of eyes burning a hole through his back. He tried not to let that distract him. But it was so stressing, being at the center of attention like this … especially with that haughty redhead analyzing him silently, watching him with folded arms.
"Well?" the aforementioned redhead finally asked, tapping his foot impatiently. "Can you at least give us some idea as to what's happened?"
Looker shivered slightly. The commanding tone in that voice was somehow – dare he think it – compellingly attractive. But he forced himself to remain clearheaded, businesslike. The Sinnohan government was paying him for this, after all.
"His trainer ID does confirm him to be Lucas DeMonde," he said, referring to what he had jotted down on his notepad. His voice echoed slightly in the spacious room, and he swallowed nervously. "He had—"
"Speak up, old man!" somebody snapped from behind him. "We can't hear a word you're saying!"
Old man. He sighed, wishing this line of work weren't so strenuous as to draw premature lines on his face and hands. Trying to swallow his pride, he turned around to face the group of people behind him, who, like that handsome redhead, were watching him expectantly. These were the all people who had been in or near the building within the last twenty-four hours; he had requested that they be brought here, because – and this warranted the watchful police officers prowling just outside of their vision – they were the suspects in this gruesome mystery.
"Lucas DeMonde," he repeated, raising his voice a little. "Defeated Sinnoh's Elite Four and Champion. Traveled to here to KanJoh, earned all sixteen badges, headed into this building, and managed to get as far as Champion Lance. And that was the last he was officially seen … alive."
He let that word ring ominously for a moment, watching the suspects shift uncomfortably. At his side, Croagunk was also analyzing them; the others might not know it, but he was very familiar by now with his Pokemon's uncanny ability to detect guilt. Of course, the guilty party would often have a knack for swallowing their regrets, which was why it was up to him to help bring them to the surface. Then Croagunk could identify the murderer, and life could go on.
He could have finished this several minutes ago; it was the presence of that proud caped figure that made him draw this out dramatically. Perhaps even he could be impressed.
"It's an inevitability that he's made several enemies over the course of his career," he continued. "However, no one in this room has even been to Sinnoh, so we can rule out any old grudges being satisfied."
Everyone tensed slightly. He felt a small glow of satisfaction; now they were wondering what else he'd researched before this scene. Well, he'd let them know.
"Most of you came here in order to watch his battles with the Elite Four," he stated. "You were not expecting to do any battling yourselves, and therefore you left most of your Pokemon in storage. The few that you kept with you are incapable of causing damage as extensive as this." He gestured towards the torn-up corpse behind him. "After being defeated by Lance, he was teleported back to this room, where I suspect his attacker was waiting for him."
"Meaning?" Lance asked.
"Meaning that the murderer must be one of the Elite Four."
Hushed murmurs emanated from the civilians as they unconsciously backed away from the Elite Four members, leaving them standing alone in the middle of the room. Lance uttered an indignant cry; trying not to let that sound draw him into an erotic fantasy, Looker examined the reactions from the accused. None of them looked very guilty: three of them were glaring back at him defiantly, while Will continued to single-mindedly fiddle around with his Rubik's cube.
"Any of them, after being defeated, could have sufficient time to heal their Pokemon, return to this room, and wait for Mr. DeMonde's teleportation. Any of them could have used at least one Pokemon to slaughter him in this way. However, I have reason to believe that one of them in particular had a motive for murder. And there is evidence to back it up …"
Silence. Lance watched him, face intent and anticipating. Even Will was looking up from his cube.
"There were three Full Heals in Karen's trashcan," Looker said quietly.
"Liar!" she shrieked, suddenly pointing at him with a dangerously sharp fingernail. "I'd never even set eyes on the brat before! You have no proof of anything."
"Ah, but I do." He reached into his bag, pulling out an ordinary videocassette. "Four straight hours of proof. Specifically, it proves that you … shall we say, seduced him."
Her eyes shot daggers into him. Strange that her hair has already become so frazzled, he mused.
"Afterward, you tried to convince him not to take on the Elite Four … 'tried' being the operative word. And I'm sure the entirety of the continent remembers your interesting comment that you would never, ever give up your position as Elite Four. So – and this is my take on the matter – after you were defeated by him, you used the Full Heals—" He allowed his voice to slowly rise to a crescendo, feeling rather pleased that Lance's full attention was on him. "—doubled back to this room, and waited until everyone had headed off to watch the Championship battle; when he reappeared here, you immediately set your Pokemon on him, mauling him enough to satisfy both your career ambitions and your anger – because he was not attracted to you enough to listen to everything you told him. You then headed straight for the Pokemon Center, because you knew Nurse Joy would be expecting your Pokemon to be bloody after being defeated so soundly!"
Everyone broke out into surprised chatter. Karen stood there frozen for a moment; then with an angry shriek, she reached down for her Poke Balls with lightning speed—
But Croagunk was quicker. For a split second he appeared to be simply a blue blur; then he was withdrawing his glowing hand from Karen's stomach, grinning as she moaned and collapsed to the floor.
"Sir?" one policeman asked Lance, as his comrades converged around the woman.
He nodded, and soon they were dragging her to her feet, snapping on handcuffs as her Poke Balls were confiscated. As they started to lead her away, she glared blearily at Lance.
"At least he was better in bed than you!" she snarled, before vanishing through the doors.
Looker glanced over at Lance. He was surprised – and secretly pleased – to see the redhead's face lose all its color. Then the Champion shrugged it off, setting his face with a hard expression.
"At least I'm not a whore," he remarked. Then he turned to Looker and inclined his head. "I suppose I should offer my thanks, Detective. None of our forces had been able to solve this case … how could you have possibly thought to look in her trashcan?"
"Ah." Looker ran his hand through his hair, feeling rather embarrassed now that this conversation was one-on-one. "I didn't, actually. It was Croagunk's idea." He looked over at the frog, who grinned cheekily back at him. "He tends to poke around at the underbelly of things."
"Interesting. I expect that will go in your report?"
"Naturally. I can't exactly take all the credit for myself. Say …" He gave the redhead a somewhat pleading look. "Would you care to join me for lunch? Perhaps you can look the report over, to see if I've forgotten anything … and possibly to forget the personal side of this issue as well." As soon as he said it he wished he hadn't; if there was anything that could possibly get them started on the wrong foot …
But Lance gave him a small smile and nodded. "If you like. The sooner I can get her off my mind, the better. Now, where are we headed, Mr. Handsome?"
Looker giggled like a little girl. By his side, Croagunk rolled his eyes.
Remember when I said these would be tongue-and-cheek? Yeah, this is where the parodies start coming in.
CatThingShipping // Mewtwo & Gardevoir // PG-13
Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there lived a Pokemon Champion. He lived alone in his mighty mansion, which was built on a tall mountain that loomed over the League. Every day, aspiring trainers would challenge the Elite Four, but only a few managed to be granted permission to climb the mountain and face the Champion himself. These few grew fewer and fewer every day, for his prowess in battle was so great that many were discouraged and decided not to make the attempt. When the challenges stopped altogether, the Champion grew proud and declared that he was truly the greatest trainer in all the land.
Later, on a dark and stormy night, a tired old man requested shelter from the rain. The Champion was displeased to have another visitor, and requested to see proof that the old man had defeated the Elite Four. When the old man admitted that he had never even seen them, the Champion immediately grew furious and demanded the old man to leave, not caring that the journey back down the mountain would be a long and dangerous one.
Suddenly the old man cast off his disguise, revealing himself to be a world-renowned scientist of great standing and wisdom. The scientist told the Champion that he did not deserve his great fortune, and vowed to get his revenge at that moment by making him as miserable as he had been willing to make others. Realizing his mistake too late, the Champion begged his forgiveness, but he would not listen. Instead, he bound the Champion and transformed his very genes, transforming him into a vile, deformed monster. Even his many Pokemon were affected, becoming strange, glaring abominations. Before leaving, the scientist stated that the transformation was designed to be reversed when the once-Champion could humble himself to admit his pride and self-centeredness, and even give them up entirely.
Years passed, and the mansion fell into disrepair. People whispered that it was haunted, that the Champion had sold his soul to gain power, and that the unearthly noises coming from it were strange creatures he was attempting to raise. No one really wanted to prove or disprove these rumors, however, and soon the matter slipped out of everyone's minds, mostly forgotten.
And so things might have remained, had an ambitious young trainer not defeated the Elite Four for the first time in over a decade …
"I wanna be the very best, like no one ever waaaaas~"
Gira groaned, clutching her head and squeezing her eyes shut to block out the noise. Unfortunately, since she was a Gardevoir, his feelings of intense glee were just as audible to her – and a great deal more annoying.
"To catch them is my reeeeawwwll test, to train them is my cause!"
"Steve, shut up!" she barked.
Her trainer, a stereotypical airheaded young teenager, did not shut up, but instead continued to trek up the mountainside, "singing" at the top of his lungs. With a sigh, Gira continued to float behind him, while two of his other Pokemon followed close behind.
"I will travelllll across the land, searching far and wiiiide …"
"He needs to stop," Keba the Leafeon groaned, his long green ears pressed flat against his head. "His voice is making my tail wilt. Seriously."
Chia just thudded her tail against the ground, skipping along with her usual phony Wynaut grin. "Flom freekiki," she babbled.
"Each Pokemon to undersssstand, the POWER THAT'S INSIDE!"
There was a rumble, and Gira immediately sensed a boulder far above them that had been dislodged by the ugly noise. Concentrating her hardest on the far-off rock, she picked it up telekinetically, moved it off of the mountainside, and let it drop to the distant ground. She rubbed her temples, wincing slightly; moving a closer object would have been a lot easier.
Steve, of course, did not notice, but continued to skip on his merry way, leaving his Pokemon sweatdropping at his behavior.
Upon reaching the mansion, Gira sensed a strange, ominous aura about the place. She thought about warning Steve about it, but he was too busy stroking a nearby bush to be acting serious, so she decided to tell the other Pokemon instead.
"Like something really, really horrible is going to happen," Gira said, shivering a bit. "It just doesn't feel right."
"I know," Keba agreed. "It looks terrible. Oh, and I heard once that this Champion person sold his soul to the devil or whatever. So maybe the devil's in there."
"Actually, that's not what I meant. I'm getting the horrible feeling that somebody up there has just set all this up so I fall in love with whatever's in there."
He stared at her. "Are you feeling all right?"
"I'd feel better if I wasn't stuck in this ridiculous situation," she muttered, glaring up at nothing in particular. If one was paying close enough attention, one would have gotten the odd sensation that some overlooking person with a keyboard and an overactive mind was grinning evilly.
"Kalum awtha." Chia nodded solemnly in agreement.
It was at that moment that Steve gave the innocent bush a last pat, rushed over to the door, and banged on it hard enough to create a reasonably disturbing double entendre.
The doors swung open with astonishing speed and force. But it seemed that nobody had opened them. Cautiously they peeked into the darkness of the house, trying to see within the cavernous yawning of the maw-like entrance that was supposed to be likened to a mouth.
Very, very faintly, they could see something pale and humanoid standing at the top of what was probably a tall, wide staircase.
Fools! the thing roared telepathically. Haven't you read the sign? It says closed until further notice! You are illiterate idiots, so you must die!
And all four of them inexplicably blacked out.
Gira's eyes fluttered. She had already psychically examined the cell she had been placed in – it was one of those old mansions, the ones with a dozen ballrooms and uncounted secret passages and an extensive dungeon. Since she was underground, and destroying the bars would undoubtedly attract the thing's attention, she decided not to do anything. To be honest, she wasn't sure she could do anything. She'd sensed that the creature had an incredibly powerful mind, probably capable of tearing even hers to shreds.
"Gira, Chia, you there?"
Struggling to her feet, she drifted over to the bars to see Keba looking out of another cell expectantly. "Unfortunately, I am," she muttered.
"Smee," Chia gurgled happily from some other cell.
"Where's Steve?" Gira cast her mind out, hoping that her trainer hadn't been killed by the thing; to her relief and annoyance, he sprawled in another cell, crooning a Barbie song to himself. "Oh, he's here. Goody. So, what the hell locked us in here?"
"No idea." Keba shrugged. "Not sure I want to know, either."
The clang of an opened iron door echoed through the dank hall.
"Shouldn't have said that, Keba."
Padded footsteps grew gradually louder, until the tall pale Pokemon stepped into view, glaring at them. Gira couldn't help but stare: his body seemed unnaturally thin, aside from his long purple tail.
That's ironic, coming from you.
"Reading my mind, are you?" Gira asked, glaring at him. "At least I don't look anorexic."
That was a low blow.
"You deserved it."
Silence! I am speaking. I am Mewtwo, and you are my prisoners.
Keba blinked. "But I thought you said you were going to kill us."
I sensed it in his mind, so it doesn't matter. And anyway, just because I said something doesn't indicate for sure that I meant it. It made for a nice dramatic effect.
They stared at him.
"I am the walrus," Steve remarked, but everyone ignored him.
I assume you haven't eaten in a while. Mewtwo's eyes glowed blue for a fraction of a second, and with the cell doors swung open with earsplitting creaks. Hungry? Then follow me.
The Pokemon glanced at each other, bemused, before doing as he'd said. Steve skipped along behind them, nibbling on a random finger bone.
The dining hall was quite enormous, with a grand table spanning to either end of the room and a ceiling that stretched to the heavens. As they were seated, they also noticed that the room was swarming with symbol-like eye Pokemon, which were setting the table with plates heaped with steaming food.
"Good evening, good sir," a C-shaped one remarked to Steve, leaning forward in what was supposed to be a bow.
"No thanks," Steve yawned. "I only do it if nothing else can pleasure me."
"Don't mind him," Gira said hastily. "He's not all there."
"'Tis all right," the symbol remarked, still looking rather disturbed.
"Well, of course he's not all there!" a V-shaped one remarked. "That's the entire point. We're not all there, and the Master's not all there either. Blame it on the bloody scientist. We, m'girl, are the Unown."
"And he's the Master," C added, tilting its body toward Mewtwo.
"They've guessed that, C," V said testily.
"It matters not," an X-shaped Unown said dreamily, floating past them. "For I've seen that the Master will soon humble himself enough to declare his love for somebody else. Probably tonight, in fact. And then the transformation will be reversed at last!"
The guests stared at it.
"You fool!" V snapped, whacking X over the back of its eye. "You weren't supposed to tell them that! The relationship is supposed to grow gradually, but now you've spurred it on like a frigging Snover on fire! Or more likely, they'll say 'What the hell?' and make sure they don't fall in love. Or she will, at any rate. At this point, Master's probably too sex-deprived to care whether she's in love or not."
"Um, really, guys?" Gira asked. "You honestly think Chia would've gone through with that anyway? I don't know a lot about him—" She jerked her head towards Mewtwo, who was watching the conversation expressionlessly. "—But I'm pretty sure that what you're describing counts as pedophilia. And that stupid vampire book already turned me off with the demon-spawn/animal-man love thing, so I really don't want to see another one, 'kay thanks."
"Yech?" Chia tilted her head to the side, puzzled.
C, V, and X all glanced at each other.
"Milady, you're mistaken," C said after an appropriately long awkward pause. "The 'she' we were referring to was actually you."
"See?" Gira yelled to Keba, whose ears stood up in surprise. "See? I told you this would happen! But you just asked if I felt all right!"
"How am I supposed to know these things?" the Leafeon shot back. "I just live with you people, I have nothing to do with anything!"
Gira, Mewtwo said suddenly. Kiss me.
Everyone stopped talking and swiveled around toward him.
I'm willing to intimately touch a being not as wondrous as myself, he explained, standing up. I'm quite sure that counts as humility.
Gira blinked at him, surprised at his abrupt request. She could sense traces of humility in him, but it probably didn't have much to do with her appearance. Years of living in a castle full of living eyes was probably the main contributor. Still, if this would reverse his transformation, he wouldn't be a freakish cat-man anymore. Knowing typical story conventions, he would probably be gorgeous as a human.
So, ignoring Keba's disbelieving stare, she floated over to Mewtwo.
They stared at each other for an unnecessarily long moment.
Then he seized her and planted his mouth on hers.
Gira wasn't an experienced kisser; as it was, she found the kiss nice, but rather boring. So while Mewtwo seemed to thoroughly enjoy it, grunting and softly slurping at times, she found her eyes wandering about, as brilliant flashes of light erupted around the dining hall. The Unown's shapes were changing, an event which seemed more interesting than making out with the weird feline.
"Excellent!" C laughed, flapping his newly-regained Clefable wings again. "I've waited so long to return to this pink, feminine, not-very-fit body!"
"I still say X almost ruined it all," V the Venusaur growled, glaring at the other ex-Unown.
"I foresaw it," the Xatu replied, waving a wing dismissively. "Therefore, it would be foolhardiness to assume it would not come to pass."
"Yeah, well, you're a smartass."
Finally, Mewtwo stopped, allowing Gira to get a gasp of air. That was the good news. The bad news was that the one holding her was still Mewtwo.
"Aren't you supposed to transform too?" she asked warily.
I would have, once. But I'm used to this body, and I like it now. Frankly, being human was extremely pathetic.
"Red Bull gives you wings~!" Steve giggled.
Gira just blinked. "So, you're going to be Mewtwo … forever?"
He nodded. What meaning does being human have in this happy ending?
She groaned. "What part does 'happy' have in this ending?" she muttered, before he kissed her again.
While this was going on, Keba glanced about incredulously. "So … are we supposed to learn a moral here, or what?"
"No," X said serenely.
"Yes," V contradicted. "The freakier your backstory is, the more likely you'll get the sexy chick."
"He speaks the truth," C agreed sadly, settling on the table with a sigh.
Chia just grinned and shoveled more cake down her cheery face. She liked chocolate.
Coming up next: MedievalStoryShipping.
Last edited by SugarPesticide; 8th November 2010 at 7:13 AM.
Our heroes trekked through dale and glen, though they didn't know it because nobody uses those words anymore, as they continued on their quest to rescue the famed Lady Rara. The interesting part about this was that she had been a complete unknown until the monstrous Moltres had snatched her away to his far-off lair. It is completely possible that she had actually let herself get captured in an attempt to get an edge over her fellow ladies in that unending quest to marry a knight, but as she doesn't even appear in this story, the world will never know.
"I've never even heard of this Lady Rara person," Gira the Gardevoir remarked, floating through the undergrowth with her large bag of items slung over her shoulder. "Why are we even bothering to rescue her? She's probably just some man-stealer who likes making out with anybody she sees."
"I doubt it," Sir Galantree, the renowned Gallade knight, replied. "She is a lady, after all, and what you suggest is unladylike behavior. Women of standing do not even think of such things."
She rolled her eyes. "You've never read any books, then."
They emerged from the dense forest and found themselves at the edge of a towering mountain. They could see a large hole about halfway up the mountain's face. "It's the lair of the great and terrible dragon, Komordus!" the knight exclaimed, gesturing towards the hole with the blades on his arms. "He alone knows the secret of Aksen Valley, which holds the key to Morgul Feil, which contains the skull of Sir Dredded, which will guide us to the hidden fortress of Icy Lunden, which hides the decaying map to Abyss Leym, which is the gateway to Devil's Armpit, the realm of monstrous Moltres and his magmatic minions!"
He puffed out his chest dramatically.
But Gira was not impressed. "Okay, what the hell? Did you really need to rattle that all off? I already know it, and we probably could already be up there by now if you hadn't repeated that entire thing. And why do we need to do all of it, anyway? We could just Google up a map to Abyss Leym. I have my iPhone in here somewhere …" And she reached into the bag, rummaging for something.
"It's just not the same," Sir Galantree said. "I would much rather work to find the decaying map in Icy Lunden."
"How the hell are you supposed to read a decaying map? Oh, here we go. A-B-Y-S-S – ooh, I love AutoComplete! It's so much spiffier than this roundabout quest thing … yeah, see, here it is. Abyss Leym. One: go twelve miles east from New Cairo. Two: turn north onto Deadmen Road and drive twenty-nine miles—"
"Isn't that a load of highly specific instructions, which makes it similar to my load of highly specific instructions? Anyway, we're doing this my way, because I'm the hero and you're just a mage."
"Well, okay then, Mister Highbrow!" Gira snapped, putting her iPhone back as they started walking up the mountainside. "Don't listen to my opinion, then! Not that you need to, because even when I specifically said not to go into Sulfur Swamp, you managed to defeat all those Croagunk waiting in ambush! And even when I heal you a couple thousand times, it's useless compared to beating off that little Surskit that couldn't even hurt me! You know what, I really, really hate these chauvinistic times! Men only like women if they're wearing revealing outfits or making them a sandwich! Although I suppose the ideal woman is doing both, am I right?"
"Please don't try to argue, mage," Sir Galantree said calmly, placing a hand on her shoulder. "I'll need your help in defeating Komordus. We'll need to work together."
His politeness surprised her enough that it placated her slightly, although she was still fuming.
After an hour or so, when they had reached the mouth of the dragon's lair, they paused to catch their breaths and gulp down some water. When Gira reached into her bag and pulled out an object, Sir Galantree thanked her profusely for giving him her protective magic.
"… It's a Liechi Berry," she said. "You've seen them all the time in your hometown, remember? And what's supposed to be magic about it anyway? It just starts making you feel stronger when your adrenaline starts pumping, that's all. Like steroids that grow on trees. Anyway, eat that, and let's go in."
He followed her instructions, and soon they were venturing into the cave. They hadn't gone more than a hundred paces, feeling their way through the dark, when a sudden flare of light made them freeze in place. Before them stood a mighty Salamence, who stared back down at them.
"Komordus!" Sir Galantree exclaimed.
"Because obviously I didn't know my own name until you said it," the dragon said, exposing his long fangs with a yawn. "Can you midgets go and bother some other Salamence? I'm not in the mood for eating people right now."
"But thou must!" the Gallade said. "'Tis necessary to beseech thee for the location of Aksen Valley, and thy pride compels thee to conceal it until thy defeat!"
"Oh, don't give me that Olde Butcherede Englishe," Komordus said. "And look, I'll just tell you where it is if you go leave me alone, okay? You don't know how many bloody adventurers insist on fighting me for something I didn't do. Aksen Valley's in Duveldenland, just over the border. A bloody big vulture'll immediately see you and guide you to it. Now can you go away? I just want to catch up on my sleep."
And he curled up in a ball and closed his eyes.
Gira concentrated, scanning Komordus's mind for a moment. "He's telling the truth. Let's go."
"But … but …" Sir Galantree lagged behind as she led the way back out of the cave. "But I wanted to fight him!"
"It doesn't matter. We have what we needed. And anyway, why are you upset? I'm the one who wasted a perfectly good berry on you!"
"Well, excuse me, princess!"
Komordus chuckled as the sound of their bickering grew farther and farther away. "They'll fall in love," he growled softly to himself. "They always do."
And he fell asleep.
Not very shippy, sorry D: And yes, this was the same Gira. I couldn't help but turn her into a semi-recurring character. :P
As a rule, Paul didn't like people, so he spent time training his Pokemon instead of socializing. However, he didn't much like Pokemon either, so he yelled at them most of the time. In his opinion, the only one you could count on in this world was yourself. Hell was other people.
So when the S.S. Spiral hit an iceberg, causing him to wash up onto the rocky shore of some island, the first thing he felt was relief. Not because he was alive – he'd already taken that for granted – but because there didn't seem to be any settlements as far as he could see. It didn't seem to be a particularly large island; it probably wasn't more than a couple of miles in diameter. But it was large enough to not get swept up in the evening high tide. There were probably even some wild Pokemon running around here.
He smirked. This would be a real vacation.
The island was covered in trees, though he could see the snow-covered tip of a large hill peeking above the forest. After considering his options for a moment, he started walking towards it, hugging himself as he shivered – even in the summer, the afternoon breeze was chilly. And with his freezing, water-soaked clothes … well, he wouldn't have been surprised to see ice crystals forming.
The ground started to rumble beneath him. He paused, wondering warily if that hill was really a small volcano, when suddenly an enormous brown shape erupted from the trees before him, heading towards the beach. He stared hungrily at it, reaching automatically for a Poke Ball. A wild Mamoswine … look at that power! It must be mine.
"Magmortar, stand by!" he barked, releasing the fiery Pokemon. Instantly he felt the atmosphere around him change: what had once been a cold breeze had morphed into a stifling hot wind. He clenched his teeth; he wasn't sure he preferred this to the freezing sensation.
"Morrr …" Magmortar raised its cannon-like arms, waiting for its master's command.
Paul waited until the Mamoswine was about ten yards away before shouting, "Flamethrower!"
Twin streams of fire burst out of his Pokemon's arms towards the snow pig. The sheer temperature of the attack made him actually stagger backwards; sweat dripped down his face as he watched the Flamethrower rush towards the wild Pokemon, ready to toss a Poke Ball when it started to cry out …
But it didn't. Instead it easily turned slightly to the side without slackening its pace, allowing the fire to miss it completely. A deep, grating sound rumbled from its throat: it seemed to be laughing at them.
Frustrated and exhausted, Paul was about to order a Fire Spin when something on the Mamoswine's back rustled in its coarse fur. He watched as a bluenette head peeked out, looked in his direction, and beamed at him.
"Oh, hi Paul!" the girl exclaimed, waving.
The shock of seeing that unexpected face, together with his previously unacknowledged fatigue, was just too much even for him. So he fainted, much to his own chagrin.
When he came to, he noticed he was in a small, warm cave, wrapped up in a blanket covered in a cutesy pattern of Buneary and Budew. Curling his lip in disgust, he propped himself onto his elbow and glanced around, noticing that the mouth of the cave was only a few feet away. Perhaps he could escape—
"You're awake!" the girl sang happily, skipping over and kneeling in front of him. "Great! Cyndaquil, I think you can take it down a few degrees."
Nearby, her echidna-like Pokemon nodded, and the huge fire crackling on its back shrank ever so slightly.
"And lay back down!" she told him. "You're not well enough for moving around yet!"
"Not if it means being tortured by your presence," he snapped, but a wave of exhaustion swept over him, and he collapsed to his back again anyway.
"Well, forgive me for that!" She placed her hands on her hips, glaring down at him, suddenly furious. "After helping you like that and making sure you didn't freeze to death or – you know what, forget it. You're not grateful. You probably don't even remember my name."
And with a huff she sat down, back to Paul, staring into Cyndaquil's fire with her arms around her knees.
"Actually," he said after a long while, "I do remember your name."
She sniffed haughtily. "Sure you do."
"No, really." He stared up at the cave ceiling, putting his hands up behind his head. "Your name's Dawn. It's pretty hard for me to forget, you've told me at least ten times by now. In that shrill voice of yours, too … like I needed to listen to someone as weak as you."
"Says the guy who can't even sit up," she scoffed. "What, are you a damsel in distress now, Paul? Or should I say, Polly?"
He stiffened. "Don't call me that."
"I didn't think you cared. Polly, Polly, Polly, Polly, Polly, Polly, Pol—"
"Stop!" he exclaimed, cutting off her sing-song chant. "That's annoying."
"Fine," she said, relenting. "As long as you promise to remember my name from now on."
He smirked. "Sure I will … Donald."
She whacked him repeatedly over the head with his freezing wet shirt.
"Ow! Cut that out!"
She giggled, sticking her tongue out at him. She did stop hitting him, though.
He sweatdropped and wondered how she could switch between moods so abruptly. He didn't dare ask if it was because of PMS, though. She'd just hit him harder. Then again, it was rather fun pushing her buttons like that … but since she'd already agreed not to call him by a girl name, it might not be fair. Anyway, she was taking care of him, and she didn't seem quite so annoying when she wasn't with those two idiots she usually hung out with.
Closing his eyes, he wondered if maybe this wouldn't be so unbearable after all.
It was a typical day in the lives of our heroes. After Team Rocket had been blasted off for the five thousandth time, Ash, Dawn and Brock decided to go off to the theater to see a movie, while their Pokemon were left to entertain themselves. Unfortunately for Buizel, Pachirisu's idea of entertainment seemed to consist solely of bouncing around like a furry caffeinated tennis ball.
"What's a pi? What's a pi? Three-point-one-four-one-five-five! What's a pi? What's a—"
"Nine," Torterra corrected lazily, sprawled on the ground in an attempt to sleep. "Three-point-one-four-one-five-nine."
Buizel just gritted his teeth. He hated cheerleaders, and he hated electricity. Therefore, Pachirisu was what he hated most. She was a serious pain in the neck ... no, scratch that: she was the child of Barbie and the devil.
"Yeah, okay, Tortie. But I know math, see? Watch me do these cheerleading moves, guys, watch, watch! I said watch, Cyndy, not squint like a weirdo mouse thingy! Look, look, look, here I go! Lefty lefty righty right, let's all count down pi, all right! Threeeeee, threeeeee, point-point-point-point-point, whoo! One's the number next, whoopee, then we find a four for might! Yayyyyyy—"
"Shut up!" Buizel burst out. "Can't you ever take anything seriously?"
Without moving from her pose, she turned her head slowly toward him. "Yes," she said, in a surprisingly even tone. "I. Like. FOOOOOOOOOOOOD!"
And she all but exploded in a flurry of cheery excitement.
"Well, okay then!" he yelled over her crackling. She was stretching him to his breaking point. "Let's see how serious you can be! I challenge you to a cooking duel!"
Everyone gasped dramatically.
Pachirisu landed on the ground. After standing perfectly still for several long seconds, she swiveled around to stare him in the face. "Very well, Buizel-chan," she said. "We shall see who can create the tastiest and most epic, mind-bogglingly gorgeous, world-smashingly amazing PIE … and we shall surpass all who have endeavored to this task before us! If you defeat me, I shall be as meek and quiet as you please for as long as we both shall live. But if I win, you must be my slave forever … Do you accept this challenge?" She threw her arms out in a wide gesture, as lightning flared ominously in the background.
Buizel dropped into a fighting stance. "Bring it."
"Very well. TO THE PAIN!"
There was a sudden flash, and the next thing Buizel knew, he was standing behind a sparkling clean counter. Glancing behind him, he realized that he was standing in a typical TV kitchen setting: stainless steel fridge, oven, drawers … Across from him stood Pachirisu, in a setting similar to his. Overhead were several fluorescent lights and a timer set at two minutes, and beyond those, nothing but complete blackness through which dramatic flashes of lightning crackled occasionally.
"Ladies and gentle-Pokemon!" Pikachu said, holding a microphone in one paw as she gazed down at everyone from her position on a tall podium. At her words, an audience filled with Pokemon cheered wildly. "Welcome to the Ultimate Wondrous Spectacular Cooking Face-Off! In this corner we have Buizel, renowned for his affiliation with serious business! And in that corner, we have Pachirisu, famous for her energetic love of food! You know the challenge. You know what's at stake. Contestants! Prepare to begin!"
The audience cheered again. Across the stage, their eyes met. Pachirisu giggled and waved at Buizel, while he just glared as the countdown began.
Sweat started to line his face. "I must win this," he muttered to himself.
"… is my destiny!"
"Good luck, Buizel-chan!" Pachirisu laughed.
Immediately they were off, grabbing berries and chopping at them amidst the audience's cheering. Wanting to pack a punch with his perfected pie, Buizel selected all of the spicy berries before him. As he chopped them, he spontaneously decided to add several dry and sour berries to counteract the spicy flavor. He didn't want whoever was eating this pie to burn their mouth.
Once he'd finished chopping up his berries, he immediately began to put together his pie crust. Glancing up from his work for just a second, he did a double take: Pachirisu was bouncing about at lightning speed, steamrollering through tasks that would give him a bit of trouble. Gritting his teeth, he continued to form the crust. He must be victorious!
The crowd's excitement rang through the stage as he finished placing the cut-up berries within the crust and started to top it off with crisscrossed strips of leftover crust. It wasn't even finished, yet the scent made his mouth water. Surely, he told himself as he placed it in the oven, he was a guaranteed winner with a masterpiece such as this—
"PAAAAAACHIIIIIIRIIIIII …" the electric squirrel said in a monotone, charging up all of her electricity so that all of her fur stood up on end.
The audience craned forward, expectant. Buizel cringed; he didn't think he really wanted to see what was about to happen.
She unleashed all of her charge at her own pie, dazzling everyone with a blinding flash of light. When it faded, Buizel had to blink several times to get rid of the afterimages. Then he wished he hadn't: sitting there before a tired Pachirisu was a perfectly cooked pie. Its crust was a gorgeous golden-brown, its scent heavenly, its circular shape utterly amazing.
His heart sank even further when he noticed a burning smell coming from his own oven. Opening it, he groaned in dismay at the sight of his blackened, charred pie. He never could get the hang of ovens.
The timer beeped; two minutes were up.
"Competition … FINISH!" Pikachu declared. "This has … this has truly been the most incredible pie-making contest since the invention of pie." She wiped a joyful tear from her face. "Both are wondrous pie-makers; however, only ONE … can be the best. Pachirisu, you shall henceforth be known as the Unendingly Glorious Empress of Pie forever and ever!"
Flowers rained down from above, and the crowd screamed its approval. But Buizel slumped forward on the counter, dejected. He would always be known as the one who had almost become the Unendingly Glorious Emperor of Pie.
He jumped. Pachirisu was standing next to him, looking triumphant and wearing a huge crown that was bigger than her whole body.
"Hail the Empress," he said dully. "Guess I'm your slave now, Majesty."
"Oh, Buizel-chan, you know I can't shame the only one who could stand up to me!" She nudged him with a paw playfully. "You almost did defeat me. I'll honor that by only giving you one order."
"Hmm. Fine, what is it?"
"That we're friends." She extended the paw towards him, smiling cutely. "I won't annoy you so much then."
He perked up. "Well, if that's all …"
They shook hands, and a spark accidentally leapt from her palm to his. He yelped in pain as electricity coursed through his body.
"Whoops!" Pachirisu giggled, letting go of him. "Got a little excited! Sorry, Buizel-chan. Ready to go take on the world as pals? Goody!"
And she bounced around manically, sending her crown flying as she zigzagged off of random objects. This would be quite a challenge, Buizel mused …
But then again, he liked challenges.
Crack oneshots are so much fun X) Although I still wonder how this pair hasn't been named yet. Might have to look through the list again to see.
Also, sorry if I got the Japanese honorifics wrong. I'm not an expert on them, but I thought it fit Pachirisu's personality. :P
You know, if you're reading this you can comment. I don't bite ^^;
RendShipping // Grovyle & shiny Celebi // PG
The wind is blowing. It's been so long since we've felt the breeze tickling our skin, or seen it rustle through the grasses of the plains, or heard it whistling its eerie song. It's a cold mountain breeze, but it's overwhelmed by the warmth of your embrace and the hope blossoming in our chests as we gaze out over the rocky vista of Vast Ice Mountain. The horizon's glow brightens, and the deep, guttural rumble roars louder as the earth again starts to spin around its axis.
My eyes start to blur with tears. Why is it that we can't see this beautiful, final morning? Why won't our eyes ever track the sun across the sky again? And that great, terrible choice still looms before me, choking my throat with sorrow: will the last thing I set eyes on be the dawn we've worked so hard to renew, and see the sky free of darkness for the last time …
Or will it be you?
Throughout this timeless, unending nightmare, we watched friends and allies succumb to the Primal, until even the last and best of them resorted to their bloodthirsty urgings. But there was the hope: the "we" was always a "we", never diminished to simply "I" or "you". Somehow, miraculously, our partnership kept us sane and pure. We were the past, struggling against the future. We were civilization's final stand against the tyrant of time. We were the light in the darkness.
Maybe it's that old syndrome we used to scoff at, back when time was taken for granted, but in a sense we've been the last two Pokemon on earth. During this darkness, I became so accustomed to fighting back-to-back with you that I couldn't even imagine life without you. The memories of the past were already slipping away – was that what started the others' downfall? – but the ones with you in them were cemented in my mind. They still are, in fact. And they're the happiest ones I ever had …
You're watching the sunrise. The sky is lightening, filling with all those pure pale colors. I hadn't realized I'd missed them so much, until now. But, beautiful as they are, they're intangible. Your touch is real, even though we're both fading away.
You are real.
Your arms tighten their hold around me, gently, protectively. "They did it," you whisper, and I remember your old once-human partner and his friend, returned to the past of light and hope.
"They did." I tilt my head backward and notice that you're looking down at me, meeting my eyes. "And so did we."
Your smiling face, tired and triumphant, lowers toward mine. My heart is a caged bird, beating against its confinement with frail wings, crooning with joy and wailing with sorrow all at once.
Our lips meet, and my tears are dried into tracks of salt by the warmth of your face and the touch of the breeze.
"Is all this real?" James asked worriedly, as Jessie dragged him down the stony castle corridor. As they passed a window, he caught sight of the blurred theme park below them: roller coasters and colorful booths and running, laughing children …
"Of course it's not real, stupid!" she snapped back at him. "It's just a lot of silly special effects."
"Pretty convincin' special effects, though," Meowth commented, trailing behind them slightly as he watched the silvery image of a ghost slip through a solid wall.
"Obviously. This is the best attraction in the whole park, in my opinion."
She abruptly stopped before an open door; the others, still carried by her momentum, collided with her, and they all tumbled to the ground like dominos.
"Ouch!" she hissed. Twisting up to glare at James, who had landed on top of her, she smacked him across the face. "Don't do that, klutz!"
"Sorry," he muttered, rubbing his face as they climbed back to their feet.
"Welcome!" a voice within the nearby room called out. Forgetting their mishap, the trio glanced inside to see a man wearing a snarling Mightyena mask, standing beside an old, warped wooden chest. "Here to help me destroy the boggart, have you? Splendid! Come in, come in, don't be shy …"
"Boggart?" James asked quizzically as the man ushered them into the room.
"Lurks in the dark and quiet, but when forced to come out into the open …" The man threw his arms apart dramatically. "It takes the form of whatever its confronter fears most. So naturally, having to deal with multiple people at once makes it easier to subdue." He removed a wooden wand from his pants pocket, pointing it at the chest. "When it emerges, you must think of how to make what you see funny. Boggarts simply can't stand public humiliation."
The trio exchanged glances. "It's probably just a Ditto," Jessie remarked sharply.
"Sounds scary …" James bit his lip.
"Scary, nothin'! I got nothin' ta be afraid of, so no sweat, Jimmy-boy!" Meowth nodded toward the Mightyena man, gesturing carelessly. "Fiya away, wolfman."
"Excellent!" He smiled at them innocently, as if he hadn't heard their criticisms.
They watched expectantly as he flicked his wand at the chest; it sparked realistically as the chest's door swung open, revealing a shadowy interior. James thought he could see a glimpse of bubble-gum pink within before a leg stepped out, followed by the body of whatever shape the thing had taken—
Jessie screeched. The boggart screeched as well, and James was surprised at how alike the two looked: both with the similar hairstyle, lipstick, facial shape … in fact, if it wasn't for the boggart's old, wizened countenance and utterly filthy nightgown, he might've said that they were—
"It's me!" Jessie wailed, tearing at her hair. "What have they done with my hair …?"
But the Mightyena man was quick on the uptake: he flicked his wand again, and abruptly the boggart sprouted a ridiculous covering of fluffy, colorful feathers. It squawked pitifully, flapping its arms around.
Jessie immediately swiveled towards her chuckling companions, and they gulped fearfully at the fury coloring her face; but then the boggart changed again, and this time it was Meowth's eyes that bugged out.
"No!" he screamed, reaching out uselessly at the vast pile of burning money before him. "Not dis! Anyting but dis!"
The man waved his wand again, and an all-too-familiar black-haired boy climbed unharmed out of the pile. "Wow!" he said, staring at the fiery cash before him. "A new Pokemon! I must catch it!"
Jessie and James didn't bother to hide their snickers as Meowth scowled. "Really?" he asked nobody in particular, as the boy-apparition reached out to try and touch the flaming money. "Da twoip, funny? Surely dat isn't da best ya got!"
As if to suit his challenge, the boggart shifted again, boy and all, and suddenly the trio was simply staring silently …
The angry-looking double of Jessie stared back at them.
After a moment of stunned disbelief, James fled. He couldn't stand the sheer horror of sharing the same room with two Jessies at once.
He wasn't sure where how he'd gotten to the dark, quiet room. He only knew that he couldn't risk coming out from his hiding place; Jessie's angry shriek had already told him what would happen if he did.
Quietly shutting the door, he looked around curiously and noticed for the first time that there was only one thing in this room: a tall, ornate mirror that seemed to shine with a light of its own. He peered at it for a moment, then hesitantly approached. After all, Jessie might take a couple of hours to cool down. He might as well find something to do.
The mirror towered over him; craning his neck, he noticed that someone had scribbled the words "The Mirror of Tnaw Od" at the top. Wondering what on earth that was supposed to mean, he looked back down again, expecting to see his scared, exhausted reflection …
And he did. But it wasn't alone.
Jessie was standing beside it.
A yelp escaped him, and he quickly turned towards the spot where she would be – but she wasn't there. He looked at the mirror again; there she was. Puzzled, he cast another cautious glance to his side, then examined the image further.
She was smiling out at him. Not the vengeful smile he and Meowth were always dreading, nor the devious, plotting smile the twerps hadn't yet learned to fear. It was a caring, genuine smile, one that he'd rarely seen on her face before.
He tried to think. Someone had told him about this mirror, before they'd gone into the park … it was something about what it was supposed to show, something more than just one's reflection. Heart's desire, wasn't it?
But – but that can't be right! he thought, frowning in confusion. That'd mean I … I love her!
The mirror-Jessie winked, as if hearing his thoughts.
And the boggart, he told himself desperately, trying to stop staring helplessly into the image's kind eyes. The boggart became Jessie when it saw me. But my biggest fear can't be my heart's desire, no way …
The image put an arm around his reflection's shoulders, drawing him into a hug.
Feeling dizzy, he sat down; the reflection and the image mimicked his movement. He watched them quietly, feeling a strange combination of emotions course through him: a powerful joy, a brooding uncertainty, a terrible sadness. He wondered what was real, and what was simply in his head. Two versions of Jessie that he'd come to know over many long, hard years. Two paths that would lead him to fates he couldn't see.
But which path would he take?
He sat there, thinking, and the reflection and the image watched him back, there in the peaceful eye of the storm.
She was sick of being called Juliet, sick of mistaking airplanes for shooting stars, sick of willingly getting herself caught in a bad romance, sick of bragging about being a California girl (for crying out loud, Hoenn and Johto weren't anywhere near the United States!), and sick of crying all over her guitar – after all, the finish could only stand so much salt. She'd already ruined fifty-seven of them.
So she asked Drew if he could pretty please find an author who wouldn't twist her life to suit a single song – no, scratch that, an author who would avoid the plotless nonsensicality that plagued the fanfic industry.
Drew was initially skeptical of this request, although not because he disagreed. Rather, she had been rendered virtually unintelligible – and even unrecognizable – by the sheer number of things she'd been forced to get high on in her last fic. Apparently the author had really needed to get the point across that love was her drug.
After that trying half hour, he consented to go find such an author. However, as he reemerged from her trailer and stared down the crowded main road of Follywood, he realized that this would be a harder task than he'd supposed. There were already thousands of authors he'd worked for, and few of them had been worth it. He vaguely remembered each studio he walked past: that one was the one where he'd caught Deoxys and killed Darkrai with it; that one over there had him make out with some eight-year-old vampire kid whose name he couldn't remember; that one was where he'd been just yesterday, where he'd died giving birth to Ash's kid. Outside of the authors' magical control, he'd instantly healed back up good as new, but he still felt a sagging, aching sensation in his gut that he was pretty sure men weren't supposed to have.
"You know," he mused to himself, watching one of those foreign gym leaders emerge from a studio with knives sticking out from every square inch of her head, "I never thought I'd say this, but I wish I were a girl. They have it so much easier here …" Then the image of drugged-up May resurfaced in his mind, and he immediately took it back. At least he could shake off a crash.
His eyes roved from studio to studio, until they finally came to rest on a darkly-colored one he didn't remember seeing. Not that that detail was relevant: he'd worked in so many studios by now that they were starting to blur together. Still, it was worth a try. He couldn't be forced to do anything worse than he'd already done, right?
He had just stepped into the coolness of the lobby, his eyes blinking in the comparative darkness, when a Gardevoir wearing a headset grabbed him by the wrist and started dragging him down a hallway. "Yes, he just stepped in," she spoke into the headset. "Right now, sure. Come on, you," she added to him, noticing that he was trying to drag his heels. "You're late for your appointment with Miss Tamer."
"Appointment?" he asked incredulously. "I didn't make any appointment!"
She rolled her eyes. "What makes you think the characters make the appointments? Ah, here we go." They halted in front of a door marked "The Boss". The Gardevoir, holding tight to him with one hand, rapped the door sharply with the knuckles of the other. "Here he is, Boss!"
"Thanks, Gira," a feminine voice from within called. "Just send him in, will you?"
The door swung open, and Gira the Gardevoir, not missing a beat, shoved him inside. As it closed behind him, Drew noticed that the only light in the room was a single lamp on a long metallic desk, throwing several things – including the face of the author behind the desk – into sharp shadows. The author reached to her side with a hand and scratched behind the ears of a Meowth sitting on the desk; the cat purred happily at the touch, closing her eyes.
"So, you're here," the author said. She snapped her fingers, and a simple armchair materialized. "Pull up a seat. We have business to attend to."
Drew complied, sitting opposite her and feeling slightly worried. In spite of his past assurances, the dingy feel of this studio was starting to make him nervous. Perhaps there was some new torture that would finally break him …
"It's not that," the mysterious author said dryly, and Drew realized that her author powers had probably been scrutinizing even his mind the second he'd stepped inside her domain. "I don't really give a damn about you anime-only characters. But we've had an appointment for a while."
"But I didn't even know you existed until now!" he protested.
"Author powers, dude. Now look, May sent you to get her in a fic where she wouldn't have to deal with all that nonsense, right?"
"And you're helping her find what she asked for, right?"
"So you care about her."
"Y— what?" He blinked, confused at the sudden turn the conversation had taken. "You mean romantically? That's in all those shipping fics authors co-star us in. In canon, we're friendly rivals." He rubbed his chin. "But she is one of the most talented rivals I have. Contests aren't much of a challenge if she's not—"
"You're thinking in terms of canon," the author interrupted, waving a lazy hand dismissively. "You haven't been seen in the canon in a hundred episodes. You haven't had an active role in it in almost two hundred. Your glory days are over, Drew. Why are you really helping her?"
Her comment stung him. Why did she have to remind him that the fic authors had complete control over him by now? Still, this author was watching him from the shadows, waiting for his answer, and he knew better than to irritate an author. "Because she's really messed up right now," he decided to say.
"There are thousands of other characters in other fandoms who're feeling even worse. Why help May rather than them?"
"I don't even know them!"
"And, like I said, she makes Contests challenging. There is still a chance we might appear in the anime again, so I can say it! Hell, I probably might not even bother with the whole thing if it wasn't inevitable I'd face her."
"You're really hoping to get seen in canon again, aren't you."
"Would you say that your sole role in the anime is to provide a rivalry figure for May?"
"And if you stopped doing Contests, then you definitely wouldn't appear in canon anymore."
"Maybe …" Her queries were starting to confuse him. Where was she headed with this?
"So basically May's the only thing keeping you alive."
He gaped at her like a fish, realizing the net she'd drawn him into. She just leaned back in her chair, folding her arms. He had the distinct impression that she was smirking at him.
"Logic, my dear Drew," she said silkily, examining her fingernails. "Well, I've gotten what I needed."
"Oh, and May," she said, cutting across his words. "She'll be perfectly fine. Let me set up a little window of time for both of you to just relax without any authors banging at your door, for, say, an hour or so?"
"There're many layers of fiction you need to peel back before you hit reality." She chuckled, and her Meowth grinned, sharing in her humor. "Goodbye, Drew."
She snapped her fingers.
Suddenly he was standing in May's trailer again. He stared around in disbelief – yeah, this was it, all right. The walls were decorated with those ribbons she'd won, plus some shots of her time onscreen, back in the old days when life wasn't pure unadulterated hell.
"Drew?" May sat up on the couch, looking at him curiously.
He looked back, wondering at her appearance; it was as if she'd never been forced to be in that drug fic at all. Even those horrible little dots marring her wrists were gone, as if they had never been. She seemed to notice this too; she glanced down at them, frowning slightly in confusion at her abrupt recovery.
"What'd they say?" she asked, putting down her hands to stare at him again.
"Some rest," he said. "We've got an hour."
She smiled. He smiled too; this was the May he'd almost thought had died forever, the one he'd originally come to know and love.
Shrugging off the weird thought, he rummaged through the shelves for a bag of microwavable popcorn. That and a game of dominos should make a nice, mild plot for the time they had.
Why yes, that was a failtastic attempt at a self-insert. Considering the shameless fourth-wall-breaking, though, it fit. =P
I apologize to any songfic writers that might have been offended by that not-so-subtle jab up there. I just think that combining the two media of music and fanfiction end up clashing horribly most of the time, and I wanted to poke some fun at it ... so yeah.
Coming up next: LagomorphShipping.
Last edited by SugarPesticide; 15th October 2010 at 4:48 AM.
She adored his complete fearlessness in battle, his incredible power, his friendliness toward allies and tolerance of foes. He had stayed by Ash's side for almost his entire life, devoting himself to his master's goals of mastery with unwavering loyalty. Through thick and thin, they had roamed the land together, questing to become the best. He'd defeated Pokemon of all kinds, even powerful dragons and monsters that she couldn't even bear to look at. And he would never, ever back down from a fight.
Of course, the smooth feel of his fur was also a huge plus.
So in essence, he was her knight in shining armor – and she was sure that someday, somehow, she'd be able to make him see that she was the damsel he'd fall in love with.
There was only one little problem with her idealism, one that nobody else had the heart to tell her …
"Please, can you tell her?" Pikachu pleaded.
Torterra snorted. "Are you kidding? She's too terrified of me to hear anything but a roar from me. And in any case, I sure as heck don't want to be on the receiving end of her Ice Beam."
Pikachu sighed and turned to Togekiss. "Would you …?"
But the angelic bird simply shook her head. "Alas, forgive me, dear Pikachu," she trilled in her ringing, songlike voice. "But I cannot in good conscience break her heart so. It goes against my code of happiness, and while I am aware that it would ease your mind considerably, the pain she would feel would not be well counterbalanced by your relative comfort."
Next Pikachu looked to Piplup, but he only scoffed. "You kidding? I'm not going to do that! I'm on too high a pedestal to even smile at a peasant like her. Don't you dare ask a stupid question like that again."
"Pikachu didn't even put the question to you, moron!" Buizel snapped. "Anyway, sorry, Pikachu, but I'll have to turn you down too. I don't know about how to handle this kind of stuff, and I think she's intimidated by me anyway." He smirked, looking proud.
But nobody was willing. Mamoswine even hastily feigned sleep, hoping to avoid attention.
Pikachu sighed again, glancing over at Buneary, who was playing Frisbee with Pachirisu some distance away. The attention was very flattering, true, and there was no reason to dislike her – in fact, once Buneary overcame her shyness, she could be one of the most fun Pokemon to play with. Possibly it was her cheery, naďve, hopeful face that made everyone reluctant to shatter her dreams. Maybe someday there'd be a time when Buneary had matured enough to take the news that she'd been sorely mistaken. There'd be tears shed, naturally. It'd take a load off of Pikachu's mind, that was for sure.
But for now, she couldn't bear to tell Buneary that she just wasn't interested in other girls that way.
There was a fire crackling in the hearth. Aside from that, and the insistent tapping of the detective's pen, everything was quiet. The near-silence was unbearable, but nobody dared to call attention to themselves by breaking it – after all, to the distraught Lady Caitlin, anyone could look suspicious at this point.
"It appears," Detective Looker Handsome remarked, finally lifting his eyes from his scribbling notes to the suspects and their mistress, "that the stolen Pokemon never even left the castle."
"Is it true?" the Lady demanded, sitting up slightly and fanning herself more furiously than before. "My beloved Houndoom, still within these walls?"
She threw out a hand dramatically. Her butler, Darach, was familiar by now with her gestures, and quickly placed a glass of some dark, aromatic tea into her palm; she grasped it and took a sip, waiting for the detective's reply.
"Yes, Lady Caitlin," Looker said. He glanced at his companion Croagunk, who gave him a dopey grin. "You see, every Poke Ball emits a unique electrical signature. The sensors over the doors record the signature of every Ball that enters or exits the Battle Castle, and Houndoom's ball was not one of them."
The Lady frowned slightly, confused. "But if it is has not been taken from the castle, then where is he?"
"I cannot say exactly where he is," Looker admitted. "But it appears that the thief was planning to use Houndoom for his own purposes."
"More sugar, milady?" Darach murmured in her ear. She nodded distractedly, eyes fixed on the detective as the butler added a spoonful of sugar to her tea.
"Ah," Looker said, scowling slightly. "I have determined the identity of the culprit, but … I can't say it. It's far too cliché."
"I shall forgive you for using a cliché, so long as you choose to use it," the Lady said, taking a sip of tea.
"Very well," the detective relented. "The butler did it."
Darach froze. The Lady looked as though she were about to spray tea everywhere.
"You see," Looker went on, as everyone stared in amazement, "my dear friend Croagunk discovered a checklist in his trashcan. It was marked with the heading 'For the Lady's Birthday', and one item was the sneaking away of your Houndoom. Why this is I cannot say for certain, but if it was for your birthday, I would assume it would cause no harm to anyone."
"I should hope so," the Lady said, regaining her composure. She turned in her comfy chair to throw an accusing glare at Darach. "Valet, what is the meaning of this?"
"Forgive me, milady," he said, bowing slightly and looking pale. "He is correct: my intentions are secretive but innocuous. It was necessary that I procure his help without your knowledge."
"And why is that?" she demanded. "Tell me at once!"
He sighed. "Very well. I had hoped to surprise you with it at the party, but as the situation demands …"
Rummaging within his vest, he withdrew Houndoom's Poke Ball. Ignoring the murmurs of the spectators, he released the elegant hellhound from his confines. The Lady stared in surprise: her Pokemon looked exactly the same as when she'd last seen him, but for the shiny black box clamped in his mouth.
"Dear Houndoom!" she exclaimed, and the loyal dog bounded to her with a wagging tail. As she scratched behind his horns, he dropped the smallish box into her lap, and she glanced at it curiously.
"Only his fires were hot and yet delicate enough to help me with this project," Darach explained, looking sheepish. "Consider it an early present."
Her indignation now shifted to curiosity, and as she lifted the lid of the box, her eyes widened and her hands flew to stifle a gasp. Settled on a dark cushion within was a glittering tiara of the purest silver, curling in an ornate pattern around shining pearls and sparkling diamonds. Gingerly she set the delicate creation on her head. It fit perfectly, as if she had worn it all her life.
"Happy early birthday, milady."
She gazed at him for a moment; then, to everyone's astonishment, she leapt from her chair with a girlish squeal and pecked him gratefully on the cheek. "Oh, thank you, valet!" she cried, beaming at him. "It's so marvelously exquisite! No wonder you wished to keep it a surprise!"
As Darach blushed furiously and everyone else murmured to each other in wonder, Looker glanced at Croagunk. "Do you suppose we need be involved further?" he asked the Pokemon.
Croagunk rolled his eyes. Houndoom, standing nearby, simply shook his head and chuckled.
Ever since Lord Ho-Oh had resurrected them from the terrible wreckage of the Tower, she and her siblings had been fleeing from all manner of trainers, coordinators, collectors, researchers, and evil teams. None had been of particular interest to her, and none had given her any amount of trouble—
Because now there were two very powerful trainers after her – both goodhearted, both ambitious, both of great renown throughout the land. And both very set on catching her.
She remembered when she had first seen them together, months ago, when she had reawakened and fled the basement of the Tower: a man and a girl, watching in awe as she and the others emerged into the world again. She had not known then that the man had studied her legend for years, nor that the girl had been recruiting strong Pokemon for her quest.
But she knew now. Oh, did she know.
The wind whispered of them constantly. It told of how they had argued relentlessly over who truly had a right to own her – own her, the embodiment of storm! – after her awakening. It told of the man, who defended the importance of legends and incapacitated those who wished to poach her. It told of the girl, who defeated those who plotted to overthrow the land. It told of how the two had encountered each other again, had settled their differences and focused on their common goals.
It told of how they had agreed to seek her out, together.
She knew theirs were the best of intentions. Yet she could never bring herself to face them, and not simply because she relished her freedom and feared for its future: it was because they had been brought together by the chase.
She understood the great respect the man now held for the girl. She knew how the girl – who was by now no longer a girl, but a young woman – had grown a deep admiration of the man. And during the years of the hunt, she had come to realize that her pursuers had begun to feel something else for one another. Something pure and bright.
And she worried that if she let the chase end, whether in capture or in decisive escape, their budding relationship would shatter like a crystal rose. Such an end was unthinkable.
So she continued to outrun the two, just one step ahead, never speeding, never slowing, always wishing that their bond would strengthen enough to give up this goal for another, more realistic one, and wondering how she would finish the endless race when that time finally came.
And all the while the wind whispered of their keen eyes and beating hearts.
A terribly cold breeze rushed out to meet Kate as she pulled back the vast double doors. She shuddered once, teeth chattering, as she pulled her overcoat tighter around her shoulders. Snuggled up in one of the large pockets, her trusty Pachirisu poked her head out; she and her partner peeked into the ruins of the old castle.
"Chi?" the squirrel asked quietly, almost unheard next to the distant shriek of a far-off blizzard.
Kate glanced down at the Pokemon nervously, having heard the worryingly exhausted tone in her voice. "It's okay, Pachi," she assured her, scratching her ears with glove-covered fingers. "We just need to get in, find that silly Burmy, and get out. Nothing to it."
Pachi chattered softly in agreement. Neither wanted to think about the part Kate had intentionally left out: And retrace every step we've already taken to get back … go through that trek in the snow again.
Stepping inside the entry hall of the ruined building, Kate couldn't help but gasp quietly: it had only been a few years since she'd been here, back in the Dim Sun crisis, and yet it had already gone into accelerated disrepair. Large chunks of masonry lay scattered about on the floor, beneath the large holes in the ceiling which they had once been part of. Pillars had crumbled into piles of freezing stone. Everything was covered in a fairly thick layer of snow.
The howl of the wind outside still rang in the air as Kate gingerly started to make her way across the snow-strewn floor, trying to avoid the ominously sharp chunks of ice protruding hungrily from the snow beneath her. But within the castle, there was only stillness. Even the sound of her footsteps was swallowed up in the snow. It felt eerily like a graveyard.
"Burmy?" she called softly. She glanced up at the ruined ceiling reflexively, worried that her voice might trigger an avalanche.
"Burmy?" her voice echoed back, little more than a whisper.
Something rustled softly in that direction. Hoping it might be the lost bug Pokemon, she forced her numbing legs to carry her across the large room, keeping her hand near her holster in case she needed to withdraw the Capture Styler in a hurry.
It was only about a minute later that she had reached the threshold of a long, dark hall, but to her snow-addled brain it felt like far, far longer. Hugging herself for warmth, she stared down the less snowy, though no less creepy, corridor.
"Burmy?" she tried again, daring to raise her voice a few decibels.
"Burmy?" the echo repeated.
"Supa," Pachi squeaked, sounding resigned. Normally, the sight of such darkness would make her cower in fear, but now she was too tired and cold to even protest.
Kate simply patted her furry head again, starting to walk down into the unknowable shadow. Very soon, nothing could be seen but the very faint bluish glow of Pachi's normally invisible electrical field; yet even that light couldn't help Kate from stumbling every now and then on a bit of rubble.
"Please, just let us find Burmy," she murmured to herself, feeling exhaustion start to lay hold on her. "Just let us find it, so we can get out of here …"
Eventually a pinprick of light appeared in the distance, easily visible against the inky blackness. Starting to feel a bit more hopeful, she began to jog toward it, vaguely eager to escape from this castle – in the darkness, it felt as if some great beast had devoured her whole. Her steps quickened into a run, and the light gradually grew brighter and larger.
"Burmy!" she cried out, desperate to complete this cursed mission once and for all.
"Burmy, Burmy, Burmy," her echo replied tauntingly, and a sudden, belated realization sent a fresh new chill down her spine: that echo had not been her voice at all.
She gasped in shock: a dark shape abruptly stepped in front of her, swallowing up the light like some unexpected eclipse. Surprised and frightened, she attempted to skid to a halt, but an inconvenient patch of icy stone under her foot sent her tripping onto her front, sliding for several feet until she had come to a halt at the foot of the mysterious stranger. Pachi's pocket had been far enough to the side that the squirrel wasn't crushed by her weight, yet the impact of hitting the floor elicited a faint squeak of pain.
I'm dead, Kate panicked, watching her breath curl upward in the corona surrounding her foe. I'm dead, I'm dead, I'm dead.
"Haven't changed at all, have you, noob?"
Kate blinked. She knew that voice …
A pale, slender hand reached down into her line of vision. Tiredly she reached up to grasp it with her own, and as she did it helped her get to her feet again. Rubbing the brand-new scrape on her face, she looked cautiously into the face of the young man standing before her.
Ice simply smirked back. She noticed vaguely that he was easily less warmly dressed than she – in fact, if she remembered right, it was that same outfit he'd worn back when he'd fled the overthrow of Dim Sun. Not the monochrome stripes she would have expected. But of course he looked perfectly at home in the subzero chill.
"Looking for this?" he asked, holding out a small pink shape. It took a second for it to register that this was the missing Burmy, sleeping in his arms – at least it'd had the intelligence to convert to steel-type.
She tried to answer, but her lips felt heavy and puffy, so she simply nodded.
He jerked his head forward, mocking her nod, but gently deposited the bug into her outstretched arms all the same. Then he produced another item: a pinkish spray can – an Ice Heal – apparently unopened. She blinked in surprise as he shoved it in the pocket containing the barely-conscious Pachi.
"For the runt," he explained, rolling his eyes. "She looks terrible."
There was a meaningless moment of silence. She continued to stare at him, confused and wondering.
Then, swiftly, he leaned forward and softly placed his lips on hers. "You idiot," he murmured, letting his minty breath warm her face. "I can't decide whether to call you brave or stupid."
And he slipped away into the darkness again, his cape trailing behind him.
She stared at the spot he had been standing long after he had gone, wondering – not of how she'd inform the Rangers that he was still on the loose, no.
She wished instead that he could have warmed more of her than just her lips.
"You know," Lyra remarked, drawing her knees up to her chest, "I really hope Heaven doesn't look like this."
Falkner looked out beyond the shelter of the tiny cave. It did look rather ironic: masses of huge puffy black clouds drifting above and below them, spewing torrents of rain and the occasional thunderbolt. But there was a rushing wind of incredible speed, swaying the trees rooted precariously on the rocky mountainside. He was no meteorologist, but it was pretty obvious that the storm was going to get even worse.
"I don't know about that," he said, looking back at the miserable-looking girl. "The sky's very temperamental. Even Heaven would have its bad days, I'd imagine."
"Or this is Hell on a good day," Lyra huffed. She was having a bad day, that was for sure. Though perhaps not as bad as Pippi, lost out there in the howling gale …
Cynthie, her Quilava, lay curled up at her feet, feeling sulky thanks to the oppressive humidity. Like her trainer, she wished that Pippi wasn't so excitable – the newly evolved Togetic, having noticed that her height had doubled, had immediately flown into a psychotic hysteria and soared away toward this mountain. Now she was probably lost, and, like all lost things, was in need of finding.
The shock of the evolution was understandable, Lyra had thought as she and her friend trekked up the mountain after her. The reaction to said shock, however, was less than excusable.
"I just hope we can find her," she muttered, resting her chin on her knees. "If the storm gets too bad, she'll go completely crazy."
Falkner chuckled and stroked his Pidgeot's long crown of feathers. The rain was coming down in thick sheets, but even that was nothing to the magnificent bird's keen eyesight; he stared out into the rain with narrowed eyes, just in case Pippi should pass into view.
"A twisted angel for a twisted Heaven," the young man mused. "Fitting."
"Oh, I wish you'd take this seriously." Lyra shivered in the cold breeze.
Falkner watched his friend's melancholy expression. Normally she'd be bubbly and full of energy, but this expedition seemed to be taking a lot out of her. "Of course I am," he replied. "But I can enjoy things if I want, can't I?"
Lyra shot him a tired glare. "Did you come up here just for the windy weather, or what?"
A hurt look leapt across his face. "Of course not!" he said indignantly. "If Pippi were lost in some desert, or even in an airless cavern, I'd help you find her. The breeze is just a bonus, as it were."
For a moment there was only the rush of wind, as Lyra let his statement sink in. Then she lifted her head, blinking at him in surprise. "Really? I thought … well … I thought you were just in this for the thrill."
"Hardly," he scoffed. "I'm in this for you. And Pippi, of course."
"Um." She smiled slightly. "Thanks."
He grinned back, taking her hand comfortingly. "What are friends for?"
She said nothing, but simply squeezed his hand once.
They sat there for a long time, holding hands in the dim light, waiting for the rain to relent. As Cynthie yawned and curled up into a tighter ball, Lyra couldn't help wondering if, perhaps, Heaven didn't need to look like this …
Brief comment is brief: since there doesn't seem to be a difference between the PMD and PMD2 Hero/Partner ships, I'll refer to both as BeachShipping. jsyk.
BeachShipping // Hero & Partner (PMD2) // PG-13
It was another fine day at the Wigglytuff Guild: the sun was shining, Chatot was humming to himself, and Loudred's obnoxiousness was pissing people off, as usual. Not much was going on that breakfast – most people had already left and started off to do some chores. I was busy munching on a gorgeous muffin, filled with delectable flavor and color, when Hera suddenly uttered a small gasp and clutched her head.
"'T's wif you?" I asked through a mouthful of muffin.
She stayed still for a few seconds, then shook herself back to reality and gave me a slight glare. "You know, swallowing sometimes helps," she said shortly, rolling her eyes. "Boys."
I gulped it down. "Sorry. But really, what just happened? Was it the Dimensional Scream again?"
"I guess." She made a confused face. "Doesn't happen so often now, does it … not since Dusknoir's plotting and whatnot. That's what triggered it," she added, pointing at an apple in a bowl on the table. It was the one I'd picked up and put back just a few minutes before.
Noticing the shrewd look she was giving me, I drew back slightly. She was probably pissed at me again for being picky, but in my defense, it had that weird little yellow spot on the stem. Surely a decent apple would not have such a terrible flaw. It had to be poisoned.
"Doesn't matter," she muttered, breaking eye contact and getting up.
I snatched up the last of that muffin – that sweet, golden, berry-licious muffin – and followed her out of the mess hall. I wasn't sure what was going on, but she was acting kind of strangely, looking at me out of the corner of her eye as if I was going to eat her.
She didn't actually say anything, though. At least not until we'd walked a good quarter mile or so to the edge of Treasure Town, at which point she seemed to have decided to abruptly let off a bit of steam.
"QUIT FOLLOWING ME, ROGER!" she hollered, swiveling around suddenly and surprising me out of my cake-filled reverie. "YOU DON'T HAVE TO HOVER AROUND ME LIKE A STUPID FLY ALL THE TIME! NOW KINDLY LEAVE ME ALONE, OR I WILL SHOVE THIS FOOT UP YOUR ASS!"
Okay, a lot of steam.
"Um … okay then," I muttered, watching her storm off in some random direction. "Fine with me. Not that I cared about what was bugging you or anything. I mean, come on. Get real."
So I sulked during the whole stroll through Treasure Town, with my mind warring between Hera's problem and the comparative flavors of cake. Which was a big deal, you know; if something can actually turn my attention from cake, it was … something. I dunno. Maybe she was turning into a pastry.
"Hey, Roger," Xatu called from within his shop.
"Hey." I went over to him, mostly because I had nothing better to do. Usually on days off, I'd follow Hera around – she always knew where to go for excitement. "How's things?"
"So-so. But I'm guessing I'm better off than you right now, eh?"
"What? How'd you—?"
"You can probably hear Hera's yelling clear over in the Hidden Land," he said, waving a wing dismissively. "The Scream again?"
He gave me a sly look. "Bet I could tell you what's got her panties in a bunch."
I blinked. "No. Really?"
"Sure. I'd need a bit of incentive, though."
Rolling my eyes, I retrieved a thick wad of cash from my bag, which he accepted eagerly. Because money is the one language that everyone is willing to learn, that's why.
"Thanks much. Now …" He leaned against the counter, squinting his right eye and staring into the distance. I followed his gaze, feeling confused for a minute, until I realized sheepishly that he was looking at nothing in particular. Not in this time, anyway. "Hmm. Ah. Well, I can't say for sure exactly how far into the future she saw. But you're both fully evolved, so I'm guessing you're adults by then."
"Sweet." I pumped the air with a triumphant fist. Bigger bodies meant easier ass-kicking and pie-eating.
"You've graduated from the Guild and moved to Sharpedo Bluff."
"And you make some seriously hot love on the floor."
Rating is because suicide is serious business. That is all.
BackdoorShipping // Gary & Tracey // PG-13
Tracey Sketchit, fulltime renowned artist and part-time deep thinker, was currently about as miserable as he'd ever be.
Not to say that he was letting it show, oh no. Years of attending banal art shows had helped him to perfect a smile that could fool even the most observant conversationalist into believing he was having the time of his life. Said smile was usually a mask – especially after the earlier years of his career, after the novelty of being a notable contributor to his field had worn off. And today … today his mask was so utterly false, and so at odds with his inner turmoil, that he felt as if he'd been snatched from one of the Halloweens of his youth.
Today's patron, a heavily-Botoxed woman, probably desperately clinging to her late fifties, was going on enthusiastically about his latest showcased work, the centerpiece of today's show. He smiled slightly and shuffled in feigned embarrassment in all the right places, while letting his eyes drift every now and then to the homage he'd made of his old friend. The picture was of his Scyther: haughty stance in spite of his old age, wings chipped, scales scuffed up, scythes poised at the throat, eyes seeming to stare beyond the confines of the frame. Light colors, many bordering on white, brought the Pokemon almost to life, as if halfway trapped in a spirit world. Only its eyes seemed to be truly real, solid black eyes tinged with blue and shadow and death.
Scyther hadn't really committed suicide – generally it was only the wild or freshly-captured of his kind who followed that macabre practice. Instead the noble insect had died gradually, quietly, relenting at last to the rotting fingers of time, as would all who walked upon the cursed earth.
Tracey glanced sadly at the last vestiges of life glimmering in the painted eyes.
Nobody truly understands what they have until it's no longer theirs.
The patron's speech ended on some overused remark, dissolving into the soft appreciative applause of the guests. Tracey shook her hand woodenly, forcing his mask to remain solidly in place, while the half-alive eyes of his old friend bore into him with a mixture of pride and pity.
Tracey left early. He never could understand the point of lingering longer than was necessary. Everyone had seen him, seen what he had managed to capture of Scyther's last days, seen the patron's unending existence wherever she went, with a Botox-stretched smile announcing her hollowness to the world.
Hollow as Scyther's drying husk.
His limousine pulled up to meet him at the front like some large dog, throwing light off the tinted windows. Throwing the door open and stepping inside, he let his mask disintegrate, revealing the mark of exhausted weariness that grief had left on him. Here, behind the blackened windows, he could be who he truly was.
"Back to the hotel," he muttered.
The driver consented, and the limo slowly reemerged into traffic. Tracey buried his face in his hands, letting his eyes peek out between his fingers to stare at the clean floor under his feet.
Scyther was gone. Forever.
"No need to drive so slowly, Ted," he said, wrenching the words from his gloomy thoughts. The sooner he put that false serenity behind him, the better.
In front of him, the driver twisted slightly in his seat, shifting his cap slightly as he grinned at his passenger. "I'm not Ted."
Tracey froze in surprise. Slowly he raised his head, meeting the eyes of the unexpected replacement. "Gary? What … where's Ted … I mean, why—?"
"On his break." Returning his gaze to the road ahead, the surprise chauffer continued to smirk, as if laughing silently at some silent joke. "So what'll you do, Tracey? Planning to jump out? I'm about to get on the highway, so good luck with that."
Tracey said nothing. He gripped the handle of his door, already quietly unbuckled.
"It wouldn't be worth it," Gary said, as if reading his thoughts. The grin slid from his face as he tightened his gloved grip on the wheel. "Tracey, I know you miss Scyther. I understand completely. My Electivire was killed by a rogue Dugtrio, did you know? Just buried him alive while we were exploring Rock Tunnel." His voice was now almost monotone, deliberately concealing emotion. "There wasn't even a reason for it. He was just … gone."
Tracey listened. The door remained unopened.
Gary swallowed. "But I got over it. It took me a long time, but I did. I couldn't let his death weigh me down for too long, not with life still flowing on."
The limo purred swiftly down the long, empty road.
"Advil," Gary said suddenly. "I found myself holding a bottle full of it, once. I think I was about to swallow every last pill in there. And I would've, I really would … he'd died protecting me, that Dugtrio had been going for me at first. It was my fault he was dead. Why should I live instead? But you know …" He swallowed. "It wouldn't have been fair. To everyone else I knew, I mean. They still liked me, even though I was unworthy of their love. And if Electivire's death could trigger mine so easily, what was to stop mine from triggering another's? And theirs, causing yet another's? It would've been just a long, endless string of pointless deaths. I would've caused more misery to the world than that Dugtrio caused me.
"But I didn't, Tracey. I needed to stay strong, for them. And I let go."
He glanced in the rear-view window at Tracey, who stared at his hand, resting there on the door handle.
"Don't do it, Tracey. You won't believe how glad you'll be, down the road." And taking one hand off the wheel, Gary reached around the back of his seat – miraculously managing to keep driving straight – and grasped Tracey's hand, very gently prying his fingers from around the handle.
He continued to hold his hand for the remainder of the drive.
And Tracey let him. Because he realized – and the revelation was an unexpected light at the end of the tunnel – that Gary was completely right. Things happened, and life went on. He needed to remember Scyther as he really was, eyes sparkling with humor rather than dulled with decay. And he understood, finally, how he could let go.
He only needed to hold onto something else instead.
And, incredibly, he'd already found that something else.
He squeezed Gary's hand softly, in gratitude and maybe something more. A small, genuine smile lifted the corners of his mouth for the first time in a long time.
And life went on.
Coming up next: TokiwaShipping.
Last edited by SugarPesticide; 12th November 2010 at 5:44 AM.
She annoyed him. Well, of course she did. If you asked him, she was just too chipper for her own good. And she didn't even have a reason to be. So what if she'd overthrown the Neo Rockets practically on her own? That was nothing, nothing at all next to his days of bringing down those plotters when they were still at the height of the power. Of course, he hadn't gotten any credit for it. Not with Red acting like an idiotic hero or whatever.
So he hit her with the next best accusation.
"Why do you nickname your Pokemon?" he asked scathingly. "Is it supposed to help individualize them, or what? Because it doesn't work. There's not a lot of difference between two members of the same species." He shook his head disparagingly. "Of course, you wouldn't know that."
Lyra gave him a look. "Oh, really? So I guess Pokemon are just convenient tools, then. Reminds me of something a Rocket would say, or one of those whatsits in Orre, like, say, Cipher. I didn't know you approved of them."
"I don't!" he snapped back, bristling. "We've been over this, remember?"
"Yes," she said, stroking Cynthie's nose idly; the huge Typhlosion lay at her feet, glaring halfheartedly at the young man seated opposite them. "But I still can't see much of a difference between you and them. You know, Blue, I actually thought you were a more understanding person than them. Huh. Guess not."
He didn't say anything, but instead just sat there, fuming. She smirked, pleased that she'd struck a nerve.
Cynthie yawned and turned her head to look at Venusaur, who stood beside his trainer and looked extremely bored. "When are they going to stop arguing about this?" she asked him tiredly. "They've been fighting over this thing since they met. I lost count at the twentieth squabble."
"Thirty-three, actually." Venusaur lifted a great paw and scratched behind a stubby ear.
"What I can't understand," Cynthie went on, trying to ignore their trainers as they resumed their heated discussion, "is why they keep at it. It's a waste of energy, and frankly, I think it's just ridiculous. Why can't they just settle on an opinion or something? Agree to disagree, you know? Then we can just go our separate ways and never have to look at each other again. Not that I don't like talking to you or anything," she added hastily, "but surely you get what I mean. This arguing has to stop one way or another."
Venusaur nodded, scratching in the dirt thoughtfully. After a while he looked up at Cynthie, looking almost mischievous. "I think I can arrange that."
And he sneakily began to extend a pair of vines from the base of the flower growing on his back, trying not to attract the attention of the arguing humans. Not that they were going to stop arguing, anyway.
"I'm not like them!" Blue exclaimed. "They were in it for profit. I'm in it for glory. There's a huge difference."
"Profit and glory are often the same thing," Lyra reminded him. "And even if they're not, I don't see a lot of glory for your Pokemon. It's not like you actually respect them or anything."
"Of course I respect them! What, am I supposed to fight my opponents' Pokemon with my bare hands? I'm not going to treat mine like trash. I raise them to their full potential. Which reminds me, you don't." He folded his arms as if he had won.
"Oh really?" she said dangerously, leaping to her feet. "That's a funny thing to say, coming from a gym leader who I beat in, oh, fifteen minutes flat! If mine are as weak as you say, then I should have lost, is that right? Or is it just because I'm some sentimental little girl that you can't stand losing to?"
He also got to his feet, not noticing the long vine snaking up behind him. "I raised my Pokemon from wild animals to expert battlers. You coddled your little gift Pokemon like babies and turned them into mindless cutesy things. Of course your Pokemon are weak! The gym battle was a fluke! And not everyone who likes powerful Pokemon is a maniac bent on domination!"
"Yeah? Well you, Blue Oak, are a jerk!"
"And you, Lyra Hart, need to stick labels on your Pokemon to tell them apart!"
"Well, you're just—"
Snick! went the two vines, catching the trainers around the backs of their knees and knocking them forward into each other.
"Oof!" went the two surprised humans, collapsing onto the ground in a pile.
Cynthie raised an eyebrow at Venusaur, who was retracting his vines again with a smug look on his face.
"Ow," Lyra muttered, rubbing her head as she attempted to disentangle herself from Blue's body.
"Sorry." His voice sounded muffled. "Can you get up? You're extremely awkward to be underneath."
She blushed bright red. "I'm trying, but I might've strained something."
"You're enjoying this, aren't you."
"You have to admit," Venusaur said, smirking slightly as he watched them struggle, "this is a lot more entertaining than bickering over training methods."
Oh my gosh. I cannot believe that Chatot still has Loudred out there getting Perfect Apples! I've barely seen him since we arrested those Haunter; how am I supposed to apologize for getting him into trouble? He seems all tired and grumpy at Mess Hall, and by grumpy I mean even grumpier than usual! It's probably all my fault. If only I weren't so helpless all the time, he could be doing whatever he wants! Urrrrgh. It's just not fair. Might go talk to Chatot about it.
Chatot says Loudred deserved it. Oh my gosh, is he serious? He wasn't even there to see him help me! He doesn't know how much I needed his help, or how well he managed to knock those ghosts out. I mean, seriously! He's just so powerful! I'm actually surprised they sent me to do the mission, instead of him. What with the type disadvantage and all.
I tried talking to Loudred today, but he was actually asleep for once! I guess all that Apple-picking is tuckering him out. It took me a while, but I managed to drag him back to his room. Oh my gosh, he's so noisy even when he sleeps! He has this weird whistling snore that's almost as loud as his yelling. It's almost cute, actually. I still feel really bad for making him this tired, but listening to him snore … I don't know. I'm all confused right now.
That Roger boy from town came up here again. And Loudred scared him off again. He was back on sentry duty, even though he didn't seem very happy about it. He was even louder than usual this time! His yelling was scary, but I decided to talk to him about it anyway. I mean, if he was being rude because of me, then I should deal with it. At least that's what I thought. But oh my gosh, he just yelled at me to go away! Can you believe him? That's what I get for acting mature. Hmph.
Oh my gosh, Loudred actually came up to me today. He said he was sorry for being snappish yesterday, and that he's still feeling really tired from Chatot's punishment. I said I was sorry for getting him in trouble, but he just waved it aside, yelling that it was nothing. Then I asked him if he was feeling okay, and he shouted that he was. We talked for a while about the Haunter thing, and I actually got him to laugh when I mentioned how surprised those ghosts were when he showed up. I've never seen him so happy before, even though he looks dead tired! Maybe it's because we made up. Oh my gosh, maybe it IS! I didn't know he was that concerned about me! I wasn't sure why he'd lied about Chatot sending him down to help me with the Haunter, but now I guess he's looking out for me! I might ask him about it tomorrow. I hope I don't get all embarrassed. Wish me luck!
Usually the Ranger Base was a fairly calm location. Oh, there were the odd scuffles, to be sure: whatever little drama happened in Vientown was sure to seep into the Base before long, and the Rangers themselves were only human. But Rangers were also Rangers, and it was only once in a blue moon that they wouldn't have the problem all taken care of before the day was out.
But today was different. Today Barlow had returned, ready to take charge of the Base again – and Crawford, who'd watched over it in his absence, seemed to be of the opinion that it benefited more under his own leadership. And naturally, Barlow had a rather different opinion. Not that Crawford seemed to care.
"Anything you can do, I can do better~" Crawford said in a sing-song voice, skipping around the older Ranger, half mocking and half playful. "I can do anything better than you!"
Barlow huffed. "No you can't."
"Yes I can!"
"No you can't."
"Yes I can!"
He glared daggers at Crawford, whose afro was bobbing up and down slightly. "No, you can't!"
"Yes I can, yes I can!" Crawford came to a stop in front of him, placing his hands on his hips. "I'm just better at leading than you are. And anything you can be, I can be greater. Sooner or later—" He leapt onto his hands, performing a sudden handstand. "I'm greater than you!"
Barlow was unimpressed. "No you're not."
"Yes I am."
"No you're not."
"Yes I am."
"No, you're NOT."
"Yes I am, yes I am!" He flipped effortlessly onto his feet again.
"Look here," Kate said hastily, stepping up and taking them both by the elbow. "You're not getting anywhere by arguing like this. Why don't you two actually prove that you're better at leading than the other?"
The other Rangers, watching from a safe distance, nodded in agreement.
"Oh, all right," Crawford said, sighing in an overdramatic manner. Barlow just glared at him.
They made their way north towards Vien Forest, where they stood in a well-lit glade. Bird Pokemon flitted about above them, chirping to one another. Kate folded her arms, waiting for them to do something.
"Hmm," Barlow muttered, noticing a lithe orange form scuttling among the trees. "I can get a Buizel with a single noodle." He withdrew a container from his bag and opened it – and the aquatic weasel leapt at him, stuck its head into the food within, devoured it all and scampered back into the woods before he'd had a chance to register that it'd even noticed him.
"Sure," Crawford said, smirking. "But I can get a Spearow with a bow and arrow."
He grabbed some sticks off the ground. Nobody was quite sure what he did next – his hands were just a blur – but soon he was holding a crude makeshift bow and arrow. He fitted the arrow to the bowstring, waited until a Spearow was fluttering by overhead, and let it fly with a twang.
The bird squawked in surprise: a few long flight feathers had been torn from its wing, skewered by Crawford's arrow. Rather than fall at his feet, however, the Spearow flapped its other wing sharply downwards, creating a mighty gust that carried it over the treetops and out of sight.
Somebody shifted in the ranks of watching Rangers. "Why can't they just use the Capture Stylers like normal people?"
Trying to shake off his embarrassment, Barlow brought out the rest of his lunch, a carefully wrapped sandwich. "I can live on bread and cheese," he said, before taking a bite out of it.
Crawford raised an eyebrow. "And only on that?"
Barlow nodded. At that moment, however, a small yellow mouse darted out of the undergrowth, jumped up, snatched his sandwich, and scurried away, giggling as only a Pichu can.
Crawford exploded with laughter. "So can a rat!"
By the time the sun had started to set, the Rangers were heading back to the Base, tramping up in groups of two or three. Barlow followed, feeling dejected. Crawford had proved that he was the better bargainer, the better drinker, and the more practical dresser. Surely the others preferred him as the Base leader. After all, what could he do that Crawford couldn't do better?
"Hey, Barlow." Crawford was leaning on the doorframe of the Base, waiting for him. "Anything you can sing, I can sing sweeter."
Barlow groaned. He had to sing on top of everything else?
"I can sing anything sweeter than you."
"You already said that," he growled.
"Just try." Crawford was smirking again.
Barlow sighed. "No you can't," he tried, forcing his voice to be flowing rather than choppy.
"Yes I can," Crawford replied, his tenor sounding light against the rumble of Barlow's bass.
"No you can't." Barlow found himself leaning forward slightly, toward the door. He just wanted to get into the Base and get some sleep. His eyelids started to droop. He was so tired …
"Yes I can." Crawford's voice was almost a trill. Was he leaning forward too? Well, they had been going through the same trials …
"No you can't."
"Yes I can."
"No you can't."
"Yes I can."
Something brushed against Barlow's nose. His eyes flew open, and to his horror he saw Crawford drawing back from his face, lips puckered slightly, smirking like the cat that caught the canary. "No you can't, can't, can't!" he said in a growling gasp, stepping away hastily.
Crawford gave him a sly, superior look. "Yes I can, can, can!"
Barlow couldn't take it anymore. He hurdled through the door with a resounding crash.
"Let's be partners!" Crawford called after him. "Yes, we can~!"
Sabrina wasn't a lesbian. At least, that's what she kept reminding herself.
"Idiotic little girl," she muttered, catching herself thinking about that incident again and furious about it. "Flaunting herself like that. And at that age, too … how old was she again? Twelve? Thirteen?" She shook her head in disgust. "What a little whore."
Kadabra listened to her grumbling, half annoyed, half amused. On the one hand, it was difficult to meditate when his trainer was talking to herself. Twice he'd almost lost concentration, and had to hastily lift himself again with his psychic power. If there was anything he didn't want, it was looking like a fool and falling on his rump because he hadn't been paying attention.
On the other hand, his trainer was talking to herself. And that was always interesting.
She was still sitting cross-legged on the floor; her distraction seemed to be preventing her from floating like Kadabra. The walls of the gym cast weird shadows about them, though the ceiling above had been partially opened, allowing the sunlight to creep in. Not that either of them cared.
"She provoked me," Sabrina mumbled venomously, eyes half-open and glaring. "She taunted me. Of course I was going to rip her dress open."
Kadabra rolled his eyes. She'd done no such thing; she'd ordered him to slash at the girl's chest. Not that it had affected him in any way. Human anatomy was far less interesting to him than human psychology, after all. But it had certainly affected Sabrina.
"I wasn't expecting Poke Balls," she was saying. "I was expecting boobs. You can't blame me for being surprised not to see boobs."
Perhaps her mind had been addled by the subsequent onslaught of Growl and Sing? Or possibly just the surprise of seeing a Clefairy and Jigglypuff bursting out of her chest? He knew he'd been surprised. Humans were strange creatures, but not strange enough to do that.
"I'm not interested in girls," she told herself. "Everyone knows that. But when I see that little whore again, I'll actually grope her and beat her to the punch. I have to. Knowing her, she'll pull the same trick again next time. I can't let that happen …"
Kadabra highly doubted that. The young girl had been sneaky, and lightning never strikes the same place twice. Though perhaps hands do.
Sabrina wasn't a lesbian. She just wanted to grope Blue's chest.
"Um, what? No it isn't. It's eleven o'clock in the morning!"
"Don't you get it, Botch?"
"It's supposed to be so dark and evil here that it's always night! Which doesn't make any sense, actually, since there's no place on the world's surface that's dark all the time. Except for the poles during winter, I guess."
"... There was a tumbleweed rolling by the last window. Oh, and there's NO SNOW."
"Well, excuse me for trying to come up with a reasonable explanation!"
It's a story, you two. It doesn't need a reasonable explanation.
"... Um, who said that?"
The narrator. Duh.
"Wait, we have a narrator on our hands?"
Well, yes. That's why I said narrator.
"You know, this is really freaky. We can't even see you!"
Why should you see me? I'm a narrator.
"... Okay then. Whatever. So tell me, oh great narrator, what are we doing here again?"
Well, the two of you are part of an epic tale. To be exact, it's a story of how the two of you travel across the dreary wastelands of the land of Darkmort, defeat the minions of the Evil One Whose Name Is Never Mentioned, and climb the Tower of Shadowy Horror and Inner Turmoil, all in order to get to the Bracelet of Destiny, the source of ultimate power for the Evil One Whose Name Is Never Mentioned. And the only way to destroy the Evil One Whose Name Is Never Mentioned is for one of the two of you to put it on, and deal with the power struggle that comes afterwards. Oh, and the two of you are in love. That was a given, though.
"What the hell? That was just ridiculous! It's like some random idiot wanted to rip off Lord of the Rings and just pulled stuff out of his butt. And you said 'the two of you' four times. And 'the Evil One Whose Name Is Never Mentioned' is mentioned three times. Seriously, are you trying to be annoying? You could've at least shortened it to Eowninm or whatever. And Darkmort is the most contrived name for a country I've ever heard of. Period. End of story."
Not end of story. I'm the narrator, I get to decide what happens. And what happens is that the story doesn't end. You and Buffy are in the Tower of Shadowy Horror and Inner Turmoil, and an evil Zubat is jumping at you in an attempt to eat you alive—
"Zubat can't jump!"
—but just when it's about to latch its fangs onto you, Bluff leaps in front of you and takes the bite! And he collapses in your arms while you kick that Zubat to hell.
"It's Butch. And I wouldn't just collapse! I'm not that pathetic."
"How am I supposed to hold Beach and kick it without falling over? Or are you just relying on anime physics like everyone else?"
Oh, that one's easy. You were trained in the art of the ninja at the age of three. Which is part of what Buck finds so attractive about you.
"Okay, this is going too far. Look here, pal. Just because we're anime characters doesn't mean we're automatically ninjas. In fact, I couldn't care less about ninjas. Go write about that poison gym leader if you really want to. Or better yet, drop Pokemon fanfiction altogether. Go watch Naruto or something. Because, believe it or not, we have a little something called canon. Heard of it? No? Ever watched Pokemon before? That's canon. That's who we are. Not this ninjas-in-Dorkfart thing you've got going on. Just two normal Rockets looking to put down those weirdos with the rat and those other weirdos with the cat. And if I fall in love with Beverly here, it's not because he's a uber-hot bishie with abs to put that idiot wolf kid to shame, or because he's talented and athletic. He's not either of those. It's because he's my friend and I've got to know him really well, and we just have really compatible personalities."
"... We're compatible?"
"Figuratively. Don't get any funny ideas, Baywatch."
Ah, Cassidy, Cassidy, Cassidy. Don't you understand? Nobody wants to read about plots and relationships developing naturally! It all has to fit to how I, the narrator, want it to be!
"What kind of rock are you living under? Everyone with an IQ over twenty wants to read those sorts of stories. What nobody wants is a random mix of stuff that only makes sense to total imbeciles. Like why you started in the middle of the story, after all the generic traveling and minions, when Beefy and I are climbing the Tower of Sh—"
Stop acting like a baby. You're hurting my imagination.
"Well put, Birthday."
I am extremely creative! It's only to haters like you and Bob that my stories look like crap. J.K. Rowling first wrote parts of Harry Potter on dirty napkins!
"J.K. Rowling also had a college degree, years of experience to draw upon, and an actual original idea. Whereas you are probably just some fourteen-year-old girl who plays Final Fantasy every waking minute. Or Dungeons and Dragons. At least you can actually write coherently, without any lolspeak or whatever they're calling it now."
Lolspeak? No. Mom doesn't let me talk to strangers online.
"... Well, from what we've seen, you don't seem to know us too well."
"Where'd she go?"
"Who knows? Or rather, who cares. She's not bugging us anymore, that's all that matters. Wise observation there, Birch."
"I mean Butch! Butch! Get out of here, Brendan, I wasn't referring to you!"
"You said 'Birch' pretty clearly. And look, I'm all dressed up for it and everything! I even have a Robin Hood outfit!"
"Urgh. Tell you what, how about you stay in here in La-La Land while me and Bumpkin go our own way."
"Sure, I guess. Oh no! ZUBAAAAT!"
"Whatever. Where to, Bit—?"
"It's Butch. Look, I'm sick of all this sinister-ness and stuff. Why not go out for ice cream or something?"
"Don't play lovey-dovey with me, mister. What I said earlier was to back up my realism argument."
"Sure. If you say so. Let's start a story of our own, shall we? 'It was a bright and sunny day ...'"
There comes a point in every young Casanova's life when the many women he claims to love begin to look the same. In Brock's case, it was literal.
"Ah, these clerics," he lamented, wandering down the stony corridor while gesturing in a dramatic fashion. "For the lovely pink and white of each sweet Genevieve who passes through these hallowed halls ... 'tis as the light of heaven's moon reborn! Yet," he added hastily, noticing his companion's sudden movement, "one can, in spite of sighs and swoons, tire of the moon given sufficient time. For my heart yearns for the light and warmth of an unseen sun."
The bucktoothed frog, just a pace behind his master, withdrew his glowing fingers sulkily.
A trumpet fanfare suddenly rang outside, though it was largely muffled by the stones in the walls. Surprised, Brock rushed to the window and looked out into the courtyard, Croagunk lurching up behind him. A procession of people on horseback was streaming in through the main gates, while people were starting to flock towards them from several castle doors, waving handkerchiefs and cheering.
"Pray tell, grinning friend," Brock asked, not taking his eyes off the scene below, "who comes hither? And what sparks the joy of these my fellows?"
"Are you deaf, fool?" a voice snapped at him. "They praise the name of the king himself! 'Tis he and his procession of noble knights and servants that graces us with its presence."
Turning toward the speaker, he groaned to see that approaching him was none other than that red-haired, hot-tempered duchess, looking rather annoyed by the trailing gown she had to wear for their arrival. In fact, Brock thought it safe to say that the dress, temporarily replacing her unladylike tunic and leggings, was making her even madder than usual.
"Come hither, slime," she snarled, seizing his ear as she passed, so that the poor groomer was painfully dragged along. "Stop mooning about and look alive. If there is one thing I shall refuse to tolerate, it is your behavior tarnishing this castle's reputation! Not to mention my own ..."
But by the time they had descended several flights of stairs and crossed through multiple hallways, the crowd in the courtyard had already partially dispersed. The raven-haired king was dismounting from his heaving Rapidash, discussing some subject with a few of his consorts, while one of his servants attended to the weary steed.
"Your majesty," the duchess cried, curtsying deeply. She fluttered her fingers almost imperceptibly, but the signal was not lost on Brock and Croagunk, who knelt awkwardly behind her. "A thousand pardons for my late arrival. I was delayed in our many preparations."
"'Tis of no concern," the king replied, laughing. "I myself should have arrived here three hours ago. But who is this you have brought?"
"Ah." The duchess sighed, straightening up again. "'Tis the court groomer. He has much prowess in the brush and the lute, but none else. Your horses have traveled a long way in a short while, and so I offer his services in attending to them for the duration of your stay."
"A fine proposal! I have brought my own groomer, yet I am sure that another to help will be much appreciated."
"It would indeed, majesty," the servant agreed, smiling.
"Splendid. Now, Madame Misty, concerning the state of affairs ..."
The entourage of nobles made their way towards the castle, though the duchess cast Brock another sharp warning glance. He failed to catch it, however, for his eyes were full of the sight of the servant before him.
"Is this some apparition?" he exclaimed, staring at the dark-haired girl before him. "Or perhaps a phantom of my own fading intelligence? If so, I wish my mind to never set itself right! Suzette!" He leapt forward and grasped her hand.
"Ah, Brock!" she laughed. "What a sight for sore eyes! But your memory can yet improve. I asked before that you call me Suzy."
He grinned, then abruptly doubled over, moaning loud enough that several passersby shook their heads knowingly – a disgruntled-looking Gardevoir even snickered at him as she passed. Croagunk chuckled, withdrawing his hand from his master's stomach.
"Oh!" she cried, as he painstakingly tried to straighten up again. "He attacked you!"
"'Tis nothing," he replied, wincing. "He has a terrible habit. But worry not, I have become accustomed to it. In any case, what of you? What of traveling with the Scissor Troupe?"
"They are well," she said. "Particularly because favor of our performance reached the ears of the palace court, and the king requested that we entertain him. He was pleased with what he saw and heard of our antics, and of the glowing condition of our animals – so much with the latter, in fact, that he asked that I care for his own Pokemon. And thus you find me: groomer to the king's own steed. But come, the horses are yet weary, and we may continue to speak as we fulfil our duties."
Taking hold of the sweaty animals' reins, they led them across the cobbled courtyard, past the straw-strewn stables, and towards the water trough. A fox sat waiting for them there, twitching her nose expectantly as they approached.
"Ah, Vulpix, my sly friend!" Suzy exclaimed, smiling. "How well you knew we would come this way. I am sure Brock would be pleased to feed you his delicious food again."
"For such a lovely creature, I would be honored," Brock agreed. Vulpix sniffed at him as he passed, wagged her six tails, and trotted along behind them.
The sweaty Rapidash lowered their heads to drink, snorting at each other; their flames flickered fleetingly with every gulp. Loosening the saddles and harnesses, Brock and Suzy patted their necks and murmured words of calming praise, while Croagunk watched them work with his usual lazy grin, and Vulpix watched the lavish show of attention with a hint of jealousy in her eyes.
"Will you be staying for long?" Brock asked, shooing away a buzzing fly.
"I hope so," Suzy said. "For this is a lovely castle, and I may grow used to it. But more importantly, and to speak plainly, I have wanted to see you again. For few display such skills in grooming as to rival my own, and of those, you are the only one whose company I enjoy."
He smiled happily at her, and when she beamed back, he felt as though he were glimpsing the sun for the first time.
In a rush of unnatural wind, time seemed to slow. An eerie calm followed, weighing heavily on the souls of all present. The feel of fur in his mouth jerked him to reality, and a flash of horror came him; he realized too late that he had made a grave mistake. Heart racing, he hastily spat the furry objects from his mouth, hoping against hope that by some miracle she hadn't noticed.
"To seize one of my tails," she said slowly, locking piercing ruby eyes onto his widening black ones, "is to elicit a curse to last a thousand years. And you have seized three."
It was a mistake! he tried to say. I was just trying to Bite what was closest! Yet the words never came. His jaw remained stiffly open, frozen by terror and exhaustion and perhaps something else.
"You shall live," she continued imperiously, "for three thousand years. Age shall not affect your flesh, but you shall wander the wilderness, regretting your error, while friends age and wither and pass into the dust in your wake."
Though only half his height, she seemed to loom over him, all creamy fur that billowed without the touch of earthly wind. He felt himself cowering, felt moisture starting to form in his eyes. He was still little more than a puppy.
"Learn your lesson well," she commanded. She paused, as if deciding whether to say something else, and then turned and dashed away over the rocky hills, her tails streaming behind her.
He whimpered, then realized that he could move again. Ears still pinned against his skull, he turned toward his master, who stared after the ghostly fox long after she had vanished.
His master comforted him, assured him that near-immortality was hardly a curse at all. Yet he could not shake off the heavy feeling that had settled in his bones and in his gut. He was cursed. A marked dog, something to be avoided. The other dogs could sense some change in him, something transcending sight or smell. It made them uneasy, though they couldn't decide how or why. They saw his despair and pitied him in their way, but they were careful to keep their distance all the same.
He never could say afterward when he realized his master had gone well into adulthood. He only knew suddenly, without warning, the human was bent almost double, smelling of prunes and dust and rot. And he knew that on one gray afternoon he heard the wailing in his master's house, grief-calls of his master's children and grandchildren and servants, and it was followed by a procession through the village, an upheaval of earth, and then silence.
He glanced around the kennel, wondering what the other dogs thought of this, and realized belatedly that they had all been dead for decades.
There was some scuffle or other as to who would claim the land afterwards, and the conflict snowballed into a war that ultimately destroyed the castle. There was a day when, roused from his lethargy by the acrid scent of fire, he realized that the kennel wall had been completely torn away. Initially the chance of escape did not appeal to him, and he wished only that some of the falling rubble might crush him and end his misery. Then he remembered the words of the fox, clearly as if she stood beside him, reminding him that he would live for three thousand years. She had not specified whether anything would be able to kill him. The implications were chilling.
He left the castle altogether – there was nothing there for him anymore – and bounded away from the pointless wars and the soldiers whose deaths he envied.
He watched the near-destroyed village for a while from his den on a nearby mountain, falling asleep for months or years at a time. At odd intervals he would awaken to notice that something below had changed. A farmer had tilled the soil again. Buildings had been rebuilt. The village square would ring with shouts. The village would be in ruins. And the cycle repeated itself.
He couldn't understand why it mattered. The land would last. They would not.
Sometimes he would hunt the prey that roamed on the mountainside. Sometimes he would unleash a bloodcurdling howl that would send every creature within miles scampering.
All times felt empty.
He returned one day to his den, a fresh-caught deer in his jaws, to find the fox waiting for him. She watched him, ruby eyes glittering, but it didn't seem to matter to him. The dull ache within him left no room for fear. She'd already cursed him; there was little she could do to make his plight more unbearable. So he said nothing, as did she.
He ate his fill, licked his chops without enthusiasm, and noticed her staring at what meat remained. He felt a brief surge of defensiveness – he had captured his prey himself, and surely she could do the same. Then he caught himself and brushed it aside. There would be more deer when he was hungry again. He met her eyes, gave her a slight nod, and padded to the den's shadowy edge to give her space.
She accepted his offering, and when she had finished, she swept her tails across the floor, almost wagging. "Thank you."
"Arcanine," she said, in a voice with a note of something he couldn't identify, "the curse of my tails is not a voluntary reaction. The energy shifts to the offender whether I wish it to or not."
He didn't look at her. But her voice reached his ears all the same.
"You did not deserve this fate," she said. "I can think of no one, no matter how vile, who does. But my kind do not appreciate those who invoke it, for with every millenium we cast upon a mortal is also another thousand years we must endure. I did not tell you of this before because I was sorely angered when you damned me to live another three millenia. It took me these last two centuries to come to understand and forgive you."
He grunted again. But her words struck a chord in him. Somehow he saw the truth in them, the most honest words he had ever heard.
"It may be longer before you will do the same for me, if at all." She got to her feet. Was that a hint of regret in her tone? "If so, know that it is a great comfort to be in the company of those who bear the same burdens you do. Search for me, and I will be found."
And then she was gone.
He remembered that day clearly. He heard the memory of her words whispering to him as he watched the village grow into a town, then a bustling city. His lucid thoughts wrestled against his despair. And as he slowly came to accept her apology, the lucid thoughts increased. There was someone out there who would share his pain, if he would let her.
He was no longer alone in the world.
When he left the den behind for good, he set off after her, putting the echoes of agonized howls behind him. Off he went, following the ghost of a vulpine scent that he had once tracked for a long-dead master.