Wisdom: Integrity vs Despair
Despite not being legless anymore, Lucario was still far from making progress. The Gallade's words echoed in his mind as he felt confused, trying his best not to come to terms with the absolutely last thing he wished to think about. In one final attempt to escape his worries, he had managed to completely zone out, glaciating his brain while waiting for the afternoon to unravel. He almost made it until nightfall, had it not been for someone else entering the storage dugout.
Lucario turned his head and saw a specter floating in through the wall, barely even batting an eye in surprise. He took some pride in the fact that he had finally adapted to all the nonsense he was constantly subjected to. The phantom was covered by a veil of purple mist, bearing a structure similar to Darkrai but without the malignant presence. As the fog slowly dissipated, Lucario identified the new arrival as the Gengar he had met back when he was chatting with Zoroark, and even earlier in No Man's Land.
"What do you want?" Lucario asked warily, instantly straightening himself up. He remembered all too well the sensation of being run through by someone, and that their first encounter had nearly ended with a battle.
"A drink," the Gengar answered bluntly. Lucario stared him down before waving his hand towards the crates.
"Go ahead," he muttered quietly, "Plenty to go around."
"Hmm… Your manners ain't so bad, after all," the Gengar said in response, a compliment Lucario knew for certain was a ruse as he braced himself for a fright or a fight. However, all the Gengar did was calmly reach into one of the open crates, pull out a beer and somehow open it by engulfing the cap with a wisp of black smoke. Stepping beside Lucario, he gestured for the reluctant Fighting-type to shuffle over and sat down next to him. Lucario looked at him with annoyance, while all the Gengar did was to stare at the wall in front of them.
"Tell me about her…" the Gengar said after a few moments of silence, "Tell me about Mew…"
"… What are you, bloody Paparazzi or something?" Lucario asked while suddenly standing up in rage, "Here for the hot scoop on the legendary? If you think I'm about to spill my guts-"
"Cool it, kid," the Gengar interrupted while holding up a hand, "Just here for the woes of a drunk who's not me, for once."
Ceasing his short-lived tirade, Lucario fell back in his seat. As much as he wanted to lash out at someone other than himself for once, the Gengar was clearly not looking for trouble. Observing the Ghost-type's weary eyes, he felt a strange sensation of calmness run through him.
"Maybe I don't look the part, but I lived your future out," the Gengar muttered as he turned back towards his drink, "I was where you're at now."
Lucario huffed at the prospect of being analyzed and judged by someone worse off than he was. There was no need to hold back - This was just some stranger, not a friend or police officer or someone he might regret losing face to.
"Listen, I don't know who you lost, but I guarantee she doesn't even compare to Mew," Lucario explained before feeling the need to elaborate, "… Mew was… She was not of this world. She was too good. Wherever she was, everything else looked like filth!"
"… Radiating purity…" the Gengar added quietly, "… Not just physically, either…"
"Of course! She was gentle," Lucario answered as he thought back to the first time he met Mew, how overjoyed she was to see Ethan return, "She had every right to treat me like a piece of crap, but she… She was understanding, and really, honestly seemed to care…"
"… Passionate…" the Gengar mumbled with an exasperated sigh, "… Both in good and bad… Disagreements could lead to heated fights…"
"We had a few issues, but that's just because I cared about her so much," Lucario replied quickly, remembering how a single dog almost tore them apart and suddenly realizing what he had said, "Her opinions, I mean! After all, with someone like her, odds are a bonehead like me was the one in the wrong…"
"… Mature and intelligent…" the Gengar continued without paying heed to Lucario's slip of the tongue, "… But momentarily, she would partake in a manner of childlike innocence…"
"Yeah, that's true. She was powerful enough to reshape the world," Lucario responded confidently, but could only summon up the visage of a frozen Mew and a sting puncturing his heart, "But beyond her psychic abilities, she would seem so weak and helpless… I just wanted to be with her, to protect her from harm…"
No. Lucario suddenly realized something felt off about what he had just said. Since day one he saw Mew as a nearly omnipotent being, and knew she did not need anyone to protect her. It was the other way around.
"I mean… I'm weak, so I wanted her to protect me…" Lucario corrected himself. Again, something seemed off about his assessment. He never thought of himself as weak, and he definitively never willingly relied on anyone else for protection. Had he sought protection, he would have stayed with Lugia and the rest of the legendaries. If so, then why did he so desperately chase her around?
"I…" Lucario stammered as he shook his head. The hole inside his chest was beginning to widen, a deep longing overtaking his senses. He wanted to see Mew again. There was so much he wanted to tell her. There was so much he wanted to do with her. But most of all, he only wished to hear her speak again, enlightening him with her gentle words as she had done so many times before.
But it was impossible. Claimed by the cold winter's night, she had died. With the still light of dawn's arrival, she was dead. No amount of time would change that. A month of drinking or thirty years, even after his own passing they would not reunite. Mew was gone forever.
It was then that Lucario noticed the tears running down his face. It had happened so suddenly he had not even felt them coming out, as if they had been lying in wait, ready to spring into action at his first sign of weakness. Feeling like a fool to be crying over settled matters, he simply could not accept that he had been denied the company of Mew forevermore. He still refused to understand why she meant so much to him, but the truth was becoming more and more obvious no matter how he tried to ignore it.
"Let it out, kid," Gengar said calmly as he patted Lucario's back, "I'd join in, but my tears ran dry so long ago I don't remember much of what it's like."
Raising his head, Lucario was suddenly reminded that the Gengar was there. He tried wiping his tears away, but they kept coming and ruined whatever dignity he still wished to maintain. It was the Gengar who had made him like this, knowing exactly what Mew was like and forcing memories of her to resurface within him.
"Y-You… Your guesses are too good…" Lucario choked through the tears, "Who… Who are you…?"
The Gengar looked at him for a moment before sighing. He then stood up, putting down his empty bottle as he began to head for the wall on the left.
"… Just another stranger…" he muttered, leaving a trail of purple mist behind him, "… Someone who's loved and lost."
Lucario sat frozen and followed the Gengar with his eyes as the shadow began to float rather than walk, but still moved at the same sluggish pace.
"Someone…" the Gengar continued, "… Who also loved and lost a Mew."
Having reached the wall, the Gengar soundlessly disappeared through it, once more covered by a veil of dim fog.
He moved unhindered through walls and low ceilings, not feeling the shift in temperature as he occasionally passed through the snowy outdoors. Those that saw him pass by would flinch in surprise, but ultimately decide to leave him be. It was bad luck to tangle with Ghost-types, lest one was willing to continue their day affected by Curse, Spite or a similarly nasty affliction. Zoroark would probably have asked him why he had shrugged his duty for so long, but there was no need for him to pass by the Dark-type's quarters now anyway. The location he was heading for was far-off, secluded and populated by only one being.
"Wh-Who are you?" Celebi exclaimed with a startled expression as the Gengar entered the chambers. It was an unusually large area, but indistinguishable from every other room the caverns had to offer. The only thing to bring uniqueness to it was an enormous flower sprouting out of the ground in the middle with a thick stem, yellow petals and a soft head made out of hundreds of tightly grown florets.
Upon the flower laid a figure. A frail creature, still and harmless even when compared to the plant beneath it. The Gengar ignored Celebi as he moved forward, keeping his focus on the botanical pedestal.
"Stop, don't you touch her!" Celebi shouted as she flew in front of the Gengar, the once fern-like legendary looking pale and giving the impression of something wilting, "What are you doing here!? Go away, or I will throw you out myself!"
"Celebi…" the Gengar muttered while throwing her an icy glance, "Be quiet. Excelebi would not approve of you being so tactless."
The Gengar put extra effort into pronouncing the strange name, causing Celebi to slap her hands against her mouth in utter surprise. Excelebi was the nickname her mother had been given by Mew's mother, casually mentioned in one of her father's memoirs. All three of them having been dead for decades, it was not a name anyone left in this world should know anything about. She stared in shock as the Gengar settled down in front of the flower, examining Mew from head to toe with a very sad gaze.
"I abandoned you to force the Deadly Enervation Sustenance onto Cresselia…" he whispered so quietly that not even Celebi could hear him, thinking back to days long bygone, "And… I could not bear to watch your mother die because of me. But now…"
He stared at Mew for a few moments, realizing how young and weak she looked compared to the Mew he had known. Even as he stood there and beheld her corpse, he did not feel regret or sadness. He felt nothing except for maybe a slight tinge of nostalgia. It had been too long. Too many years of shame, too many years of drinking. He wanted to touch her, but knew he had no right to. Instead, he leaned in as close as he could get without touching, focusing on the meek, paralyzed face in front of him.
"One day, soon… I will follow you to your mother…" the Gengar whispered almost inaudibly, "Perhaps then… We can finally be a real family."
Without another word he turned around, passing by the confused Celebi on his way out. She stared as he disappeared through one of the walls, leaving the empty husk of his daughter behind.
Was it OK for me to have done what I did?