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Hopeless Romantic Rukario
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"I'm dumping this thing..." Zerobi muttered as she tore her cloak off and threw it away, "Stupid thing did nothing but hinder me the entire time..." For an instant Lucario felt like doing the same to his backpack, but his thoughts were interrupted as the other Lucario began moving towards him. He was frozen in place and could do nothing but stare at their savior while Zerobi slumped down next to a wall. He could tell that they were the same from head to toe, with one or two minor differences that just barely separating them. It was like he was staring at a twisted reflection. The form of a Pokèmon was not something he had gotten used to, but that did little to lessen the surreal sight of a slightly alternate version of oneself.
Firstly, he determined that the other Lucario had to be female, if her voice and protruding chest was anything to go by. Secondly, the word 'protruding' stuck in his mind as his eyes fixated on a giant spike sticking out of her torso, before shifting over and seeing two similar spikes stuck on the back of her hands. Even their clothing was similar, although her shorts seemed to be slightly more detailed and in better condition than his. It also seemed like the color of her fur had been inverted somehow, meaning that her chest was blue while her arms and legs were yellow, but it was hard to tell. Long strings of light seeping in through cracks in the walls and ceiling was the only thing keep the room from complete darkness.
Those few holes came at the cost of warmth, as everyone except for Zerobi felt uncomfortably chilled. Even so Lucario barely paid any notice to it as he was still heated up from the earlier battle, and the female Lucario seemed to be far too occupied with eyeing him intently to notice something like that. He was starting to get uncomfortable, and felt that he should probably be doing something.
"... Thanks...?" Lucario said, to which the other Lucario's ears twitched. Suddenly, she gave off a beaming smile that made her face noticeably brighten up, even in the darkness.
"I knew it! I knew it was your aura I sensed!" she burst out happily, "Oh, Cyon... I-I was so worried!" The yellow Lucario cried tears of joy as she ran up to Lucario in the hopes of embracing him. However, Lucario noticed the giant spike sticking out of her chest, and sidestepped her instead. Zerobi couldn't help but look at the whole situation with amusement, as she felt quite at home in both the darkness and the cold.
"Y-Your words don't match your actions!" Lucario stammered with a startled voice as the female Lucario turned around to face him. Her eyes were dimmed from tears as she was looking at him with confusion.
"Cyon...? What are you..." she said slowly as her voice became more and more worried, "... Why are you looking at me like that...?"
"... Like what? I've never even seen you before!" Lucario replied. The moment the other Lucario heard this she inhaled deeply in shock, her face instantly contorting into a mixture of surprise and sorrow.
"B-But..." she stammered as she took a step closer so he would see her better, "It's me! Rukario! I'm your wife!"
"My... WHAT!?" Lucario blurted out as he took a step backward in dazzlement. Now his face was also one of confusion as he looked around, his eyes suddenly locking with Zerobi's.
"Uh, you don't have to pretend for my sake..." she mumbled, waving her hand in the air.
"What? NO!" Lucario replied, struggling for an explanation, "I just got here, how on earth could I have a wife!?"
"Cyon..." Rukario whispered softly as she moved closer, "Why are you doing this? Please stop...!"
"Stop calling me Cyon! My name's..." Lucario shouted in annoyance before suddenly trailing off for a few moments, "... Lucario." He looked at Zerobi for a moment before looking back at Rukario, not really sure who he least wanted to try and explain everything to.
"Cyon..." Rukario repeated sadly and moved even closer, the spike on her chest almost touching him at this point, "... What happened to you? I-I... I was so worried when you didn't come home..."
"Listen..." Lucario said as he decided to man up and not back off anymore. He looked straight at her and tried his best to ignore the tears forming in the corner of her eyes.
"You've got the wrong Pokèmon, lady" he said bluntly, not even blinking.
"Don't be silly! I'd recognize your face and voice anywhere!" she replied hopefully as she squeezed her hands to her chest in a praying motion, "Not to mention your... Lack of spikes..."
"I think you're confused - I'm just another Lucario without spikes" Lucario continued while shaking his head, "This is stupid. Zerobi, tell her!"
"Hmm... She seems to know you a little too well to be a complete stranger, though..." Zerobi muttered with a hint of doubt in her voice, "You sure you didn't just hit your head and forget about her or something?"
"Grr... Not you too!" Lucario growled as he felt betrayed, "I told you! I'm a human! You don't just get memories from amnesia!"
"... Is... Is that what this is about?" Rukario asked quietly while lowering her head, "... The human thing?"
"Yeah!" Lucario responded quickly as he felt the situation turning in his favor, "No offense, but I could never get married to something like you!"
"You always said that you wondered what it felt like to be human..." Rukario whispered before looking up at him again with tears seeping out of her, "Oh, my poor Cyon... What happened to you?"
"Ugh, won't listen to reason..." Lucario mumbled as he shrugged to himself, "I guess being a typical woman goes beyond being human..."
"Listen to me!" Rukario shouted straight in his face as she had a sudden stroke of determination, "You are not human! You are my husband! I am your wife! I have been searching for you all this ti-"
"You found the wrong person, then!" Lucario interrupted while suddenly remembering the situation they were in, "Thanks for showing us this place - Now quiet down, or they'll find us."
"Good idea" Zerobi suddenly chimed in, "Otherwise you can ask the police to find your missing husband while the two of us are being shipped off to some disciplinary camp..."
"Wait... That's all that happens if we're caught?" Lucario asked as he turned around to see the Weavile sitting down in a corner of the room.
"For you? Sure" Zerobi snickered darkly, "Me? They'll probably reinstate public executions..."
"Considering how I've been treated by the humans so far, I'm pretty boned as well" Lucario chuckled while turning around to ignore the yellow Lucario, "Maybe they'll make it a double-feature?"
"Please! Just... Just look at this picture!" Rukario pleaded as she reached into a pocket in the front of her pants and pulled out a small card with an image on it. Zerobi sighed, rose and walked over to them as they carefully bended over to look at it, Lucario feeling a little jealous that his pants had no storage facilities and thus were inferior to hers.
The picture displayed two Pokèmon with their arms around each other, on a large field of flowers with some kind of mountain behind them. It was of high quality, so the faces of two Pokèmon were visible and easily identified as Lucario's and Rukario's. They were both smiling delightfully, Rukario looking as if she had just been told a good joke. While her face was recognizable, but it seemed as if it had become somewhat bleaker and lost some weight in comparison to the time this picture had been taken.
"It is..." Zerobi stammered in disbelief, "It is really you. There is no doubt about it."
"... It can't be!" Lucario said out loud while shaking his head, "It's like you said, just another Lucario!" A dreadful feeling came upon him when he started to realize that he faintly remembered what the environment in the picture looked like, from beyond the frames and from a completely different angle.
"You fought too hard... You must have lost your memory somehow..." Rukario whispered as she looked up from the picture, a sorrowful and haunting smile across her face.
"N-No!" Lucario stuttered as a lingering pain began forming in his head, "I... I haven't lost anything!"
"Please... Just... I don't know what made you like this, but I promise..." Rukario continued while wiping one of the tears from her face, "... I promise that I will do whatever it takes to make you normal again!"
"Shut up! I am normal!" Lucario shouted, keeping himself from clutching his throbbing head since it would make him look very suspicious. Looking at Zerobi, he was met with a face of both betrayal and anger.
"Come here..." Rukario whispered as she walked up to the agitated Lucario, "I know something that might help you remember me..." She carefully took a hold of one of Lucario's reluctant hands, and then placed it on her left breast.
"You always said our hearts are intertwined... Can't you feel it?" she continued as she lifted her head to the ceiling and closed her eyes, "My heart... Crying out for you...?"
"Cut the bullcrap!" Lucario said as he quickly pulled his hand away from her and started getting mad, "My heart's my own, and I'd never... At least not with someone I've never even seen before!"
"No, that picture is irrefutable..." Zerobi said with a furious tone in her voice before turning around and facing him, "... Lucario, did you lie to me?"
"You want me to lie to you!? FINE!" Lucario shouted as he clenched his fists, thoroughly fed up with being treated in this manner, "I'm a goddamn wolf on two legs that is being chased by everyone for no good reason, and I like constantly getting into trouble over not knowing anything about anything!"
"I-I didn't mean..." Zerobi said out loud as she was taken aback by his rage.
"You saw the master ball! You saw it!" he bellowed while pointing accusingly at her, "I'll recite the periodic table right here right now if you want me to! I'M A MAN, DAMN IT!"
As if on cue, the door to the house flew open with a bang. Lucario became blinded by the light as several strange entities stormed in, and at the head of them was the lizard he remembered kicking in the head not long before.
"Correction - You're a loud idiot" Snivy said with an almost disappointed tone. Behind him was a slightly greener humanoid Pokèmon with flat hands colored in blue and red, as well as one of the Mienfoo from earlier.
"Snivy!" Zerobi exclaimed in surprise before sighing, "Aw, great..."
"Yeah, great!" Lucario shouted as he took a furious step towards the new arrivals, "I'm bloody livid, and I'm gonna beat the ever living crap out of everyone here! Zerobi, you with me or what!?"
"I-I'm with you!" Zerobi quickly responded as she took a step towards him, "The master ball not working was-"
"NOW!" Snivy interrupted with a shout as he suddenly threw several vines at them. Zerobi swiftly leapt forward and cut them in midair as Lucario ran past them, kicking at Snivy who jumped back through the entrance of the house and made the attack miss. The Mienfoo came up and took a swing at his head from the side, but Lucario didn't even bother dodging it as the aim was slightly off.
"Damn, you suck! Have a taste of my Aura..." Lucario yelled as a chill ran through his aching hands, recalling his previous attempts at manipulating the aura, "... My Aura Punch!" Lucario backhanded the hairy creature across the face. The moment his fist connected, it blew up into a ball of blue fire. The Mienfoo stumbled around and fell on his back while Lucario crouched over due to the pain emanating from his burning right hand.
"MY FACE! MY FAAAACEEE!" the Mienfoo screamed in agony while writhing on the ground.
"Watch the Roserade!" Zerobi suddenly yelled, Lucario looking up and seeing the green humanoid creature from earlier right in front of him. Its oddly shaped hands made it look like it was holding a pair of bouquets. It moved towards the weakened Lucario and slapped him across the face with one of its strange hands, making him yell out in pain as he felt his face being prickled by tiny spikes.
"Duck!" Zerobi shouted before exhaling a great cloud of chilling wind. Lucario hunched over even more as the Roserade was hit by it, and Lucario felt a chill run over his back as the walking flower fell over.
"She's poisoned you!" Zerobi yelled as Lucario began picking off thorns that had somehow gotten stuck on his face, even though they were nothing compared to the aching of his right hand that was still present.
"Like I care!" Lucario yelled back in rage before sensing an aura approaching him from behind.
"Cyon, I can't let you do this! I-" Rukario shouted, but couldn't finish as Lucario suddenly spun around and struck her across the face with the back of his left hand. She was struck even harder by the shock that followed as she fell to the ground in a devastating motion.
"Unless that Cyon was a wifebeater, this should make you understand!" Lucario bellowed in anger, "You mean NOTHING to me! Piss off, or DIE!"
"Hey... Don't you think you're being too rough?" Zerobi asked as she looked down at the crying Rukario.
"Hypocrite!" Snivy yelled as he jumped through the entrance once more and landed on his stomach, quickly slithering around the room in a random pattern while leaving a trail of leaves behind him.
"T-The leaf storm..." Zerobi stammered as she felt a prickling sensation all over her body and she started shouting, "Lucario! We've got to get out of here!"
"You daft!?" Lucario shouted back as he tried stomping the slippery snake but kept missing, "We're finally winning, and I'm sick of running!"
"Trust me on this!" Zerobi kept going while she ran towards the exit, "In eight seconds, this room is going to be a portal to hell!" Lucario hesitated for a heartbeat as he thought of how much trouble it had gotten him into so far, but decided to follow Zerobi anyway. She jumped over the collapsed Roserade and writing Mienfoo, but when Lucario did the same he felt the same pricking sensation from earlier striking the underside of his body as well as his back. It didn't hinder his movement in any way, so he ignored it and kept running.
"Man, I'm getting hungry..." Lucario said as he began calming down a bit while they were running past building after building, "How about a quick stop at a restaurant?"
"Look!" Zerobi shouted, signaling him to look forward where he saw that the houses were thinning out, "We're almost outta here!"
"Then what? We keep running?" Lucario continued, running ahead of Zerobi to get a better view of their destination.
"Pretty much, but not for..." she replied, but trailed off when she suddenly saw several purple spines sticking out of his back, "... WHOA! When did you get those!?"
"Get what?" Lucario asked before remembering the pricking sensation, "Oh... Right now, I guess. That flower-sales thing must've hit me on the way out."
"It's poison!" Zerobi continued with a disgusted look on her face, "Man, you're going to get SO sick from that!"
"Yeah, whatever..." Lucario responded since he was too concerned with their current situation to worry about the future, "By the way, since I trusted you this time, you owe me your trust in return!"
"What? Because you followed me?" Zerobi muttered as they ran past a few Pokèmon hiding in an alleyway, "Like I care! Hey, you could've stayed in there if you wanted to be chopped into little pieces that much..."
Zerobi suddenly stopped herself from speaking and slowed down her running. Lucario looked ahead expecting a comeback from another one of the Mienfoo, but instead saw a tiny creature right at the edge of the city. He recognized it as the brown cat that had been walking next to Snivy, before everything came down upon them.
"What do we do?" Lucario asked Zerobi who just slowed down even more, until she was simply walking towards the small being. She didn't give an answer, her gaze transfixed upon her old friend.
"Z-Zerobi..." the brown cat stammered quietly.
"Eve..." Zerobi whispered in return with a saddened voice.
"... I can't..." Eve mumbled before shaking her head and shouting out loud, "I can't let you g-get away!"
"Please, Eve..." Zerobi continued while feeling as is something had caught a tight grip of her heart, "I know it's hard to believe, but I always treasured our friendship-"
"Shut up!" Eve shouted angrily in return, "You... You're the most evil thing in this world! I regret ever meeting you!"
"I..." Zerobi said, the painful feeling in her chest increasing, "... I understand why you would think so... But it's been seven years, and we are both much older and wiser. Forgive... And forget...?"
"N-No words..." Eve mumbled to herself before suddenly lowering her head and starting to rush towards Zerobi, preparing to tackle her. Eve had barely taken five step forward before Lucario leaped forward, kicking her upwards in the chin so hard that she was thrown up into the air for a few seconds.
"Hah! What a lame way of attacking!" Lucario laughed while getting ready to hit her on the way down as well. Instead, Zerobi jumped up behind him and banged him hard on the head with her closed fist.
"OW! Wrong target, damn it!" Lucario growled in pain, clutching his head as the lifeless body of Eve crashed down on the ground in front of them.
"HEY!" Zerobi screamed with fury, "That's my best friend! Don't you DARE hurt her like that!"
"She wants you dead!" Lucario shouted back, "If that's your best frien-"
"Never mind, we don't have time for this" Zerobi interrupted and huffed angrily, "Snivy'll be here any second."
"Alright..." Lucario sighed in defeat as he approached Eve's body, "So, what do we do? Do we bring her, or-"
"Leave her!" Zerobi interrupted again as she began fleeing, "Just run!"
"... Never see it coming..." Lucario mumbled to himself before following Zerobi once more. A few seconds later they had passed the last building of Snowpoint City, and began their escape through the never ending sea of snow...
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Heheh… You’re as fast as always…"
"… Brendan? What do you want?"
"That Lucario… It must be mine! I’ll fight you for it!"
"I have no interest in settling such an old score, Brendan."
"… Then I’ll trade you for it! That Tauros you always wanted…"
"… While that is quite tempting, I am afraid that I cannot hold up my end of the bargain. I was unable to catch the Lucario."
"… What!? Even you? Quit playing with me!"
"By ‘unable’ I meant ‘physically unable’. I used the Master Ball, and it did nothing."
"Have you finally gone senile!? Not only did you use a Master Ball, but it DIDN’T WORK!?"
"Not senile to the point that I know that is impossible."
"Even the Master Ball could not catch him… Have you told them about it?"
"… WHAT!? Why!?"
"You know what our orders were. Catch or kill. I will not let an innocent Pokémon die for their cause."
"… You’re still far too soft! I always told you it’d be your downfall, now it seems it’s become the downfall of us all!"
"You know what is at stake here, and you LET IT LIVE!?"
"… How do we know that killing it is the only way? There might be another solution…"
"Withered old fool… Tell me, are you willing to risk it?"
"… Fine! It’s about time that you fail where I succeed! I’ll crush that impudent bug, and I’ll be revered as a hero!"
"Listen to yourself, Brendan. You sound… Insane."
"… Yes. You’re right… As always. Even so… It seems that the task ahead is too much for you, old man."
"Go work on your requiem, pray I succeed and give you enough time to finish it."
"… Nothing? No witty retort? No ‘you’re wrong and I’m right, now here’s why?’ You really are bygone."
"I will not kill it… But I will find a way to stop it."
"Hah! Go ahead and try! Just don’t think you’re going to beat me to it!"
"… A challenge?"
"You bet! But I’m not getting any younger, either… Let’s make it our last… And best!"
(Epilogue of Episode II)
- - - - -
After only a few hours of wandering, the snow had completely disappeared beneath their feet. It had been replaced by grassy plains in the wide open and sandy soil whenever there was a mountain nearby. It was as if they had walked directly into spring, leaving winter behind them.
"This damn climate, it..." Lucario said to himself as he looked around, "It boggles the mind!"
"Ahh, I'm going to miss the refreshing northern cold" Zerobi said with a longing sigh, "It's much too hot everywhere else..."
"Hey, you're the one who decided on going south!" Lucario pointed out, "We don't even have a real destination, we can go north if you want to!"
"... Don't you think we've overstayed our welcome when it comes to those parts?" Zerobi replied, looking behind them and noticing that Snowpoint City was no longer within visible range.
"Dunno" Lucario mumbled as his stomach growled, "Sure could've gone for a bite somewhere. We could always just, you know, go past it. See what lies further up."
"That would be a bad idea" Zerobi said, "Mostly because there's nothing up north."
"... Nothing?" Lucario asked as he looked up with a bewildered face, "How could there possibly be nothing? Isn't the world round?"
"Alright, correction" Zerobi rectified with another sigh, "There's water, and lots of it. Feel like starving to death on a raft?"
"Starving to death on the sea, starving to death on land..." Lucario muttered as his stomach growled again, "All the same to me."
"Just eat a couple of berries, already!" Zerobi suddenly shouted, pointing to the backpack he had been carrying around all this time.
"... I bloody hate those things" Lucario kept muttering and ended with a shudder, "I'd kill to get some real food before I die... And I just might!"
"If you stop eating, there's no doubt about it" Zerobi snapped back while telling herself to be more reasonable, "You just need to find a taste that you like. Have you tried dry berries before?"
"Dry is not a taste, damn it!" Lucario yelled much louder than necessary, "Surely Pokèmon can eat rice, curry or something you actually cook!"
"Yeah, I've heard of those before" Zerobi continued in her normal voice, "Do they grow on bushes?"
"... Uh..." Lucario whispered, thinking it was a trick question, "Even when compared to everything else in this world, I think that would be a bit farfetched..."
"So is Farfe-" Zerobi said as a reflex before intentionally stopping herself, "I mean, that means you're not getting any. Unless you can find it in nature, you're going to come up empty."
The two of them became quiet for a while, as Lucario ended up in a foul mood and started walking faster. As soon as Lucario passed Zerobi, she noticed the stingers from their last battle remained on his back.
"... And do something about that poison!" Zerobi shouted while pointing at the thorns covering his back, "Man, why do I have to be your caretaker all of a sudden!?"
"Simple - You're a worrywart" Lucario replied while shrugging, "I'm OK so far. Why would I need any help?"
"Are you sure?" Zerobi asked as her eyes fixed on his backpack again, "We bought an antidote for just this occasion, after all..."
"I'm telling you, I feel fine!" Lucario said with a big, forced smile.
"You're fine now, but you're going to be in big trouble later!" Zerobi pointed out, "At least let me pull the stingers out of your back!"
"... With those?" Lucario asked while looking at her sharp claws, "No thanks. I don't need more holes in me..."
"I promise I'll be careful..." Zerobi said quietly while looking down at her body, "Guess what you'll be if I don't pull them out? Dead weight... Followed quickly by simply 'dead'."
"... Hmm..." Lucario muttered as he looked more carefully at the lethal hands of his partner before shuddering, "Still, I think I'd rather take my chances with the poison."
"It's not like it's not risky for me either!" Zerobi yelled angrily, "One slip and there'll be blood spraying all over the place!"
"... OK, let me rephrase that" Lucario said sternly as his face turned white in horror, "You are NEVER, EVER allowed to do any form of medical work on me."
"Come on! It's the only way I'll ever learn!" Zerobi shouted as she moved closer to him.
"No! Stay away!" Lucario yelled while shooing her away. As he did so, he couldn't help but feel a bit bad. She was just trying to help him, it's not like it was her fault she had giant knives for hands.
"Hey, I'm sorry" Lucario said while putting a hand on Zerobi's shoulder, making her twitch.
"About what?" she replied, eyeing his arm carefully to make sure there wasn't any blood on it.
"I mean, it can't be easy, having claws like that..." he said with a sympathetic voice, looking down at the long and slender blades sticking out of her limbs.
"You kidding?" she responded as she tried to put the whole thing in a positive light, "Do you know how many times they've saved me in battle? Sure beats just having normal hands, like you..."
"... You're right!" Lucario blurted out, suddenly feeling a pang of jealousy when he imagined how easy his battles up until now would have been if he claws like that, "But I guess I could just use a couple of swords or something."
"Sworn'd?" Zerobi asked in a confused tone, "Wait... You have a few allies, after all?"
"Huh? No, I said 'sword'" Lucario tried to correct her, "You know... A long weapon..."
"Oh. Well, you can't expect me to know the name of every move, can you?" Zerobi snickered while waving her hand around, "Which kind of Pokèmon uses it?"
"Actually, it's a weapon for humans" Lucario said, still dreaming about how he'd be cutting off limbs left and right if his nails had been a bit sharper.
"A weapon... For humans?" Zerobi asked questioningly, "Why would humans need weapons?"
"... Eh!?" Lucario exclaimed in surprise as a thought suddenly hit him, "That reminds me, why didn't the police just grab a couple of guns and shoot us if they wanted us both dead?"
"Gun..." Zerobi whispered to herself while crossing her arms, "... Projectiles? I think that Kojofu used one of those, but you dodged it."
"Wait, wait, wait..." Lucario said slowly and held out his arms in a stopping motion, "You mean to tell me there are no weapons in this world? You know, that humans use?"
"... Why would they need that? They can catch and train Pokèmon just fine!" Zerobi explained while desperately trying to understand what her partner was talking about, "Sure, some fight and stuff... But I've never heard of a human actually defeating a Pokèmon."
"... Hmm... Yeah, I see your point" Lucario mumbled before scratching his head, "In a world of monsters, I doubt bullets would be good against anything weaker than a bear."
As the wandered, they came across a small waterhole in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. Lucario remembered something about water in nature sometimes being poisonous, to which Zerobi pointed out that he was already poisoned and started drinking. After making sure that she hadn't gone blind after a few moments, Lucario started drinking as well.
"Those two back there really hated you" Lucario said as he wiped some of the water away from the sides of his mouth, "What happened to make them want you dead?"
"I... Really don't want to talk about it..." Zerobi said, Lucario noticing the emptiness from earlier making itself apparent in her eyes and voice, "What's done is done."
"That's... Surprisingly content" Lucario said, not wanting to make her depressed yet still not willing to drop the subject, "I saw you have a complete breakdown not that long ago."
"I've already spent several years worrying that someone deceived me and feeling sorrowful over past sins" Zerobi sighed deeply, "Living a life like that... I think I'd rather be dead."
The two of them finished up by the waterhole and decided to keep moving. Zerobi looked at the digital map they had bought, checking the built in compass to make sure that they were on the right track.
"By the way, how did they even find us?" Lucario asked as Zerobi opened up the backpack he was carrying and put the map back, "You said something about 'detectors'..."
"Oh yeah..." Zerobi responded in an attempt to shake away her depression, "They somehow sense the presence of strong Pokèmon."
"... What? That's kind of like what I can do with the aura!" Lucario said, recalling his newfound ability to sense creatures near him, "Wait... That means we were the only powerful Pokèmon in town?"
"Uh, I guess..." Zerobi said quickly before lowering her pace slightly, "I'm a Dark-type, so psychic types can't sense me. I don't think the detectors can either. Must've been you."
"Well, I AM pretty strong..." Lucario smiled, unintentionally flexing the muscles on his upper body.
"That's what got us into this mess..." Zerobi muttered, "I thought you were weak, so I never expected those things to notice us."
"... Took 'em a while though, didn't it?" Lucario chimed in, remembering how much time he spent in the store persuading Zerobi to buy actual food instead of a bunch of occult magazines.
"They're honestly not that reliable" Zerobi continued explaining, "They malfunction all the time, and take forever to lock on a target."
"Good news for us, then" Lucario laughed before noticing that true to her words, he had been unable to sense her presence with the aura up until, "I mean, me. Just me. Anyway, what are they? Machines?"
"I have no idea" Zerobi answered while shaking her head a little, "Every city got one after that whole thing with Deoxys..."
"... Dexo-sys?" Lucario asked, the word feeling very unfamiliar to him, "Some kind of viral outbreak?"
"... Wait, you don't know about that either!?" Zerobi suddenly shouted in surprise, "I've literally been living in a cave for the past seven years, and even I know about it!"
"Bah, that's nothing!" Lucario replied with an annoyed tone, "You just got surprised over me not knowing anything! What is this, the eighteenth time that's happened?"
"Still, to now know anything about that..." Zerobi mumbled in disbelief before crossing her arms, "I mean, I don't know too many details myself, but supposedly the entire world was coming to an end." Lucario looked at her strangely, getting somewhat tired of having to take in so much new information all the time.
"A creature called 'Deoxys' appeared out of nowhere and ran around, killing everything in its path" Zerobi explained bluntly without batting an eye, "Calling it 'strong' would be the understatement of the century. From what I heard, the combined forces of entire cities could not even touch it."
"... From what you heard?" Lucairo asked, "Sounds like a massive exaggeration to me."
"Well, information about Deoxys was not so strangely limited, seeing how everything within a mile's radius of it died" Zerobi answered as she continued explaining, "The occasional camera was all that 'survived'. At any rate, it was unstoppable. Cities from every continent were reduced to rubble as it wandered the earth, and every challenger was instantly killed. Everyone lived each day in fear of dying... It was pretty much judgment day."
"... Man! I sure am glad I wasn't around here for that!" Lucario blurted out in a worried tone, "Wait... What happened? How'd it stop?"
"Hmm... Uh, I'm not sure" Zerobi said with a shrug, "I think someone killed it. A legendary, probably."
"S-Someone killed it!?" Lucario stammered as he almost tripped after stepping in a small hole in the ground, "Someone killed a creature so powerful that it was bringing about the apocalypse!?"
"It's always like that" Zerobi said slowly as she peeked up in the sky with a dreamy look, "A single hero stands up to the evil monster and defeats it..."
"... Impossible!" Lucario suddenly exclaimed, "More like the army sends eighty guys with machineguns and blows it to bits! I mean, there aren't any weapons here... But still..."
"There are like fifteen articles about it in every Occult Magazine released after the incident..." Zerobi muttered in annoyance, "... In other words, your answers lie in that bandage."
Lucario looked at her with a confused face. Zerobi then pointed to his right shoulder, where he had tied up the remains of one of the magazines charred by Raikou to cover up a wound created by Suicune. He lightly tapped it a little in hopes that it could still be read, but gave up within seconds.
"Ugh... It's all torn up... Burnt... And drenched in dried up blood!" Lucario mumbled with a disgusted voice.
"Not to mention MY magazine... You filth!" Zerobi growled angrily, "Maybe that'll teach you not to ruin my possessions!"
"... Like that's my fault!" Lucario snapped back, "Still quite absorbing for a magazine... I mean, absorbent!"
They continued talking, bickering and laughing until nightfall, during which Lucario pulled out two sleeping bags from the backpack. They had been searching for a cave to rest in, but the plains they were in the middle of seemed to go on forever, and in the end they had to settle for an open sky and grassy floor.
"Hey, maybe we should have tried these out before buying them?" Lucario mentioned as he sat down next to the fairly bland and unimaginative bed.
"... It's a sleeping bag" Zerobi responded bluntly, "They'd have to actually be trying to screw it up."
"Only one way to find out..." Lucario told himself while carefully opening it up and moving inside of it. He made it all the way in and felt the soft insides caressing his body, making him sigh in relief as he slowly leaned back.
"YIKES AND GAZOOT!" Lucario screamed as he flew out of his bag, making Zerobi look at him with a curious face.
"Damn it, my back...!" he whined and turned around, making her catch a glimpse of the poison thorns from earlier, still stuck in him.
"Told ya" she said smugly as she got up and walked over to him, "You ready for an extraction?"
"... Don't kid around, It's much too dark for that!" he groaned while futilely trying to locate and pull out the stingers himself, "I'd like to spend the night in a sleeping bag, not a body bag..."
"I can see fine in the darkness" Zerobi said quietly.
"I said no! This is insane!" Lucario responded loudly, "Gouging them out is not going to help at all!"
"Actually, I was planning on using my claws as pincers..." Zerobi said as she held up her claws in front of her.
"Pincers..." Lucario whispered to himself as a faint memory resurfaced. He was looking at his finger, doing his best to claw out the painful splinter lodged within. Suddenly, a pair of sharp objects appear above the wound. He tries to twist his hand away, but something is preventing him! In an instant, the pain flares up before vanishing altogether, a tiny object caught between the two...
"... Alright" Lucario muttered as he laid down on the sleeping bag on his stomach, "I'm placing my back in your hands... Literally."
"About time!" Zerobi replied cheerfully, leaping up and crashing down on Lucario's pants, making him jump slightly in terror.
"Are you crazy!? Don't just sit down on them!" Lucario yelled, trying to look at the creature both above and behind him.
"They're on your back, not backside..." Zerobi muttered before quickly looking at her current seat and shuddering a bit, "... I hope..."
Looking down at his back, she noticed that several spikes were sticking out among the large hairs growing out of his torso. Zerobi used her hands to lightly brush aside some of the hair on the back, just to make sure where the fur stopped and hair began. Instead she was met by a sight far more horrifying than she had expected.
"... Scars... " Zerobi whispered as she stared at the misshapen body beneath her. Even though no hair was growing out of these parts, the large gashes across his back had been all but invisible until now, hidden under the yellow fur.
"... What!?" Lucario shouted, oblivious to what she was referring to, "Those thorns were lodged in that deep!?" The scars were closed now, but she was certain that no one could just forget wounds that massive. Simply looking at them brought her back some unpleasant memories from her time in Cerulean City.
"No, I mean... I'm not a doctor, but these look old" Zerobi mumbled as she winced, "... Man, they look painful, too...!"
"You mean to tell me you're NOT a doctor?" Lucario chipped sarcastically, "You... At least you've done something like this before, right?"
"As if! One little slip and blood'll..." she said before stopping herself, "... I mean, just don't move around too much."
"Uh, you know, maybe I could just sleep on my stomach..." Lucario whispered frightfully, "... Actually, that's a great idea! Let's do that!"
"Are you sure about that?" Zerobi asked with an unusually calm tone, "I've already extracted six of them."
"... Really?" Lucario replied hopefully as relief washed over him, "Whoa! I didn't feel a thing! You're good at this!"
"Yeah, I know..." Zerobi snickered, "I'm lying." Instantly she grabbed the first of the thorns and pulled it out, making Lucario yelp in surprise.
"ARGH!" Lucario shouted as he once again tried to turn around and look at her, "Damn you! That's SO not cool!"
"What?" Zerobi asked with a sinister smile, "Is it too much for the little crybaby?"
"... Just get it over with" Lucario mumbled. The pain of having it pulled out had been bad, but nothing compared to his battles against Suicune, Raikou or the aura that lay dormant within him.
As he lay there, he realized that so far trying to use the aura had ended up in a catastrophe each time. He knew that if he wanted to learn how to use it, he would have to try something different. The female Lucario from earlier popped into his mind and he thought about asking her for pointers, though a more pressing matter suddenly came upon him...
"... You still believe me, right?" Lucario asked after a while, "That I'm human and that Rukario wasn't my wife?"
"Well, the way you treat women I doubt you could ever land a sh..." Zerobi started before suddenly converting her snide remark into an explanation, "... That was a shiny Lucario back there, you know."
"Oh... Uh..." Lucario mumbled as while closing his eyes, "If you compared her to what she looked like in that picture, she was actually a bit meager."
"Shiny is a term used to describe Pokèmon with different colors than what's usual" Zerobi explained, mentally telling herself to do that right away the next time so that she wouldn't have to listen to his nonsensical replies.
"Oh..." Lucario mumbled again, "So it's like racism?"
"Ra... Huh?" Zerobi asked with a confused tone, before remembering her earlier plans, "Anyway, they're extremely rare and constantly sought after by trainers. The fact that she even showed herself... Well, let's just say she's going to be heckled unless she quickly hides again."
"... So IT IS like racism!" Lucario continued as a particularly painful thorn was pulled out in the middle of the sentence, "She and that Cyon were some kind of inter-racial couple, then?"
"Now I don't have a clue what you're talking about" Zerobi groaned, "Just... Forget about it. Also, I'm done."
"... Oh?" Lucario mumbled for a third time, "... Why aren't you getting off me, then?"
"... Alright, you got me" Zerobi said with a mischievous smile as she pulled out the final prick, making Lucario twitch, "NOW it's done!"
"DAMN YOU!" Lucario shouted in fury, "Why you gotta do that!?"
"Because you were so stubborn, and wouldn't let me help you unless I practically begged" Zerobi said with annoyance as she lectured him, "Don't be such a hardass, or there'll be hell to pay in the future."
"Fine... I don't know what you're expecting, but you've made your point" Lucario replied as he wiggled around a bit while trying to get up, "Speaking of ass, would you mind separating yours from mine?"
"I don't know, I kind of like it here" Zerobi snickered as she leaned back and tried getting comfortable, "You wanna sleep together?"
"... Great, I get the spikes replaced with a Siamese twin..." Lucario muttered to himself before slowly rising up, making Zerobi fall off him. She landed on her back as Lucario walked over to his sleeping bag and picked it up.
"... But really, you seemed reluctant back there" Zerobi said as she got up and walked back to her own sleeping bag, "She was so kind! What kind of girl do you like, anyway?"
"Human" Lucario said bluntly as he uncurled the sleeping bag, and in a quick, fluent motion slipped into it. He sighed of relief as his back hit the soft underside of it. Even though it still hurt, it was nothing compared to earlier.
"Hmm... Figures" Zerobi replied as she also decided to lie down, lying down on top of her own sleeping bag.
"You aren't going to crawl into it?" Lucario asked while turning his head in her direction, "It feels damn good, you know!"
"That will be much too hot for someone like me" "I tried telling you this, but you just HAD to buy two sleeping bags..."
"Weirdo..." Lucario mumbled as he leaned his head back on the pillow and looked up at the heavens. It was fairly cloudy, but nothing that could completely cover up the infinite blackness of the sky that peered at them.
"... Pokèmon don't get married, you know" Zerobi suddenly whispered.
"... Huh? Where'd that come from?" Lucario asked in a whispering tone as well.
"She said she was your wife" Zerobi said, "I've never heard a Pokèmon call themselves that. It's strictly a human thing."
"And me knowing this is going to save our lives in the near future... How?" Lucario asked while sitting up and looking over at Zerobi, who was busy staring up into the sky.
"Hey, I'm trying to solve the mystery here!" Zerobi replied with a short snicker, "Help out a little, will ya?"
"There's no mystery" Lucario sighed as he lay down on his back again, "Listen, the last thing I want is psychotherapy that'll convince me that I'm a stinkin' Pokèmon. Show me a way to turn back, or forget about it."
"Even so..." Zerobi said slowly, "You've yet to tell me anything of what it's like being human..."
"We've been kind of buys not dying, remember?" Lucario chuckled, "I'll tell you now. What do you want to know?"
"Well..." Zerobi mumbled as she thought, "Anything, I guess. You're the only creature that has been both human and Pokèmon, what's different?"
"I eat berries for sustenance" Lucario responded bluntly, "And I'm talking to something not human."
"... That's it?" Zerobi asked with disappointment in her voice.
"I'm still human within, so mentally I was never a Pokèmon" Lucario said.
"Come on!" Zerobi exclaimed loudly, "You've met with Pokèmon and talked to them! There must be something!"
"There is, but... How do I explain..." Lucario sighed as he thought very hard of a way to explain what was on his mind, "... Like... What do you see when you look up at the sky right now?"
"... Clouds..." Zerobi mumbled an answer, "The moon... Stars..."
"Heh..." Lucario smiled, "All I see are gigantic rocks and balls of fire, swirling around in a great big void."
"... Huh?" Zerobi exclaimed, not understanding him at all.
"See it like this - We are both less than a dot on a speck of a planet in a tiny little solar system in the edges of a galaxy, that there are millions of" Lucario explained in a depressing tone before lightening up, "But we're not worthless! Every time we close our eyes in a blink, we give birth to new life in the form of cells, only to kill them off the moment our eyes open."
"... Whoa..." Zerobi whispered to herself, "Deep."
"That means that depending on our perspective, we are both an almighty god..." Lucario continued, "... And barely even nothingness."
"So that's how a human thinks, eh?" Zerobi said quietly, somewhat disappointed in his answer, "Alright, something less... Existential... What did you look like as a human?"
"This is going to sound weird coming from a canine" Lucario chuckled, "But I was actually pretty ugly."
"That's... An unexpected answer" Zerobi replied, again feeling disappointed, "Feel free to lie, it's not like I can prove you wrong."
"Nah, that's just the way things were" Lucario kept going, "Constant fighting does that to you."
"Huh... Funny to think that someone so handsome was once..." Zerobi started but suddenly trailed off after realizing what she had just said, "... Uh, human!"
"Handsome?" Lucario said with an uninterested tone, "I can't tell... And I really don't care, either."
"You don't care?" Zerobi asked with surprise in her voice, "... Really? Not even a little?"
"I'm a freak, either way" Lucario mumbled and wished he could shrug more naturally when lying down, "To any human, at least... I don't think I'd be real popular as the dog-man with no job, money or viable future."
"Alright..." Zerobi mumbled as she was getting tired of all the boring answers, "I'm done. Goodnight."
"Aw, come on! Ask me something more!" Lucario said excitedly.
"... We'll have plenty of time tomorrow..." Zerobi yawned while closing her eyes.
"Talking like this is fun!" Lucario exclaimed, "What, you're immune to fun?"
"Go ahead. Talk to yourself" Zerobi muttered as she turned around, facing him with her back.
"... Fine" Lucario said as he closed his eyes as well, "Just know that out of all the odd things I've met since I got here... You're the best."
Zerobi felt a bit insulted at being called an 'odd thing', but nevertheless fell asleep not long after that. Lucario's head was still spinning with all the new information it had taken in, and his blood was rushing from the battles earlier in the day. All of it finally collided in him, as exhaustion kicked in and he was instantly overtaken by sleep...
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
… Hmm? Oh look, it’s… It’s a Lucario! Wait a minute… Proper colors… No spikes… Am I seeing myself in third person? How is that even possible!?
Did you say something? Speak up!
Wait, am I the one talking? What am I, anyway? I’m over there, yet I’m seeing myself from over h… I… I’m human? YES! I’M HUMAN AGAIN!
“… Ru-u-uuu… K-k-k-K-k…”
Alright, you can quiet down now… It’s starting to hurt my head.
“ … RuUUuu… KaAAaa… RiIIIiii…”
I said, SHUT UP! Stop it!
ARGH! C’mon, stop it! You’re… You’re tearing me apart!
Give it a rest, already… It’s been seven years.
I haven’t had a drop of blood in almost a decade. You don’t scare me.
"PLEASE DON'T KILL ME!"
”Zerobi, everyone already knows you're special, don't do this!"
Listen, I really need to sleep. You know I can’t appease you, so just why not just leave me in peace?
“Not over until you’re dead…”
"Y-You killed them all!"
“I’ll haunt you!”
”May you rest in peace, wayward soul!"
”… Zerobi's supposed to be dead, right?”
“You’ll never get away with this!”
Damn, you’re loud tonight. Is it because I met those two? I didn’t even hurt them! You should be rewarding me, not torturing me!
“Oh, such a shame that you no longer have any blood!”
"What, this scares you? Are you scared of me now?"
… Shut up…
“Once I've killed him, I can use his essence to make you a Grass Eeveelution just like your mom! And then BURN YOU UP!”
Shut up! Shut up! SHUT THE HELL UP!
“Don't kid yourself. That new guy… You've been eyeing that blood ever since you first saw him. You want to feel it, don't you? There is no way you won't as long as he sticks around like this…"
It… It's not like that…
"Besides, who's to say things will go bad if you just have a little taste? You've matured, you can control it! The slippery slope doesn't exist anymore!"
No! I'm not like that! Leave me alone!
"He keeps acting so weird, like he's a character or something… What would his reaction be if you cut the tendrils in his legs and left him out in the snow, where he would catch cold and die? If you plunge your claws into his mouth, would he ever be able to smile again?"
… I see. You… You're just trying to get a reaction out of me. Typical. I won't listen anymore. Leave me alone with my sleep…
"… Leave you alone? Hehehe… Oh, but Zerobi…"
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
"What a pleasant surprise!"
"Oh, I wish it was… Wait 'til you hear about this…"
"Is it about the gathering, by any chance?"
"… Huh? Y-You knew!?"
"Mew passed by a few days ago and told us all about it."
"Yep! We're heading over there now, as a matter of fact…"
"… Already!? But I'm not even halfway done! It won't be for a long time!"
"To be honest, it seems to be the only safe place left in this world. We've fought three trainers these past weeks…"
“B-Brother! You are going to make him think that we were responsible for that!”
"No, I… They've been hot on my trail, too… Lake Valor will never be the same after what they did…"
"It's really bad, that's for sure. We haven't had a meeting since Darkrai and Cresselia… Well, back then we were too young to do anything. Now, it is our responsibility to take care of things like this."
"That's right! That's why I'm alerting everyone!"
"Ah… So that's what you're doing?"
"Yes! Mew told me to tell Celebi, Jirachi and Mespirit, but…"
"Didn't she know about that thing with Jirachi?"
"No! I mean, yes! I mean, it's not that, but…"
"Celebi wasn't home... A-And all her plants… Were wilted…"
"… Wilted!? But that means… Are you certain!?"
"Celebi told me that she'd rather die than let that place wilt… Maybe they got to her, and-"
"Aw, come on! You're overthinking things! Celebi is one of the strongest Pokémon alive, there's no possibility she would lose!"
"Celebi… The three of us together would probably not be able to defeat her. Everyone makes mistakes, she must have just forgotten to… Water them, or something."
"… Yeah! You're right! I'll keep looking!"
"You could try to find that Pikachu, he might know where she is."
"I will! Thanks! I really gotta go, so take care, you two!"
"… Going… Going… Gone. Pretty eager, huh?"
"The enthusiasm is natural, but he sure is clever for his age…"
"Maybe that's what happens when you grow up without any parents? Just look at Mew and Celebi…"
"Please, don't start with that again! You know as well as I do that mom and dad took care of them like they were their own!"
"… We weren't even born yet! How could we know anything from back then?"
"Haahhh.... You sure get on my nerves, sometimes…"
"… Hey, sis… Do you think someone will ever look at us like that?"
"You know, like someone's uncles… In your case, 'uncless'…"
"It's called 'aunt', and I still don't understand…"
"Like, Mew's or Celebi's child. Will we be the ones to take care of them?"
"… Hmm… You mean how they die after they give birth? You're not thinking-"
"No, what I mean is that we're still practically kids! We're too young to be raising a child!"
"… I don't think those two will be having children any time soon."
"… That woman's intuition thing again? Can't fool me with that, we're twins! I know there's no such thing!"
"More like… You wouldn't want to die, would you? Their species die in childbirth, so why would they ever want go through with it?"
"That's true… But mom says that's what always happens in the end, anyway."
"Not for a long while, I hope."
"Yeah… We're still too young, after all…"
"I meant so that they can live long, healthy lives!"
"Oh… Oh! Yeah! Definitively!"
"Will we be together forever?"
"What's this, all of a sudden? Of course we will! We're family!"
"… Even if I… Get caught…?"
"First of all, I'll protect you, so no one's ever going to catch you in the first place! And even if, I'll be there to rescue you right away!"
"WHY!? Because I'm your brother, of course! Seriously, where did all this come from!?"
"Well… I'll talk to you about that later."
"What? No fair! You get me all stoked up and then leave me hanging? We're twins! Tell me!"
"Tell me! Tell me! Tell me! Tell me! Tell me! Tell me!"