FFotM (March 06) The Ties that Bind (One-Shot)
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January 21st, 2006 (6:40 AM). Edited February 21st, 2008 by Saffire Persian.
Feline of Light and Shadow
This is an Original Trainer One-Shot (or you can consider it a short story) and it's rated PG. I realize it's written in an uncommon POV and tense, but please don't let it drive you away before you read it and find out for yourself.
You have no idea how appreciative I'll be for any critique/thoughts/opinions, etc. for this fic. It's a totally new style that I've never tried, and I'd like to know if it's successful or not. Please note this is a character centered piece, even if it doesn't seem so much so at first. ^_^
The Ties that Bind
by: Saffire Persian
~They say that Time will eventually heal all wounds; but people tend to forget the deep, everlasting scars it leaves~
The noise the crowd is making in the stands is almost deafening. You turn your head to glance at rows of avid fans, smiling for a moment – but only for a moment – before you turn back to meet your opponent’s gaze. Again, you can’t help but marvel at the fact that you’re here, you’re finally here! Through the blood and sweat and constant toil, you have finally made it to the final battle that will ultimately determine who will be the next Champion.
The journey to get here has been difficult, but it has been worth every bead of sweat and sleepless night. Even the Elite Four were just another obstacle in life's road -- just another roadblock you had to overcome. And here you are now: one last stop before that dream is realized, perhaps becoming reality.
Because right now (you feel as if you are in a waking dream, and you hope to never wake up) you are facing off against the current Champion in a battle that has, as of yet, not been disappointing. After a spectacular double knockout you are both down to your final Pokémon. The sixth and the last. You are tied, and you know that even if you lose, you will not be disappointed. In your hand, the pokéball that contains your last contender – your final hope and light – is clutched, waiting to be summoned. He is the first Pokémon you ever received; you have been with each other since the beginning. He's trustworthy and loyal; you know he’ll never let you down. He never has.
The Champion, out of courtesy, is going first, though it doesn’t really matter who goes first now. The red and white ball flies through the air, erupting in a flash of white light. Out of the light, a giant verdant creature appears, a giant flower spread across her back, while a long, steady grin emerges on her long face as she stamps the ground in challenge. You smile and fancy you can feel it tremble.
The Venusaur doesn’t daunt you – very few things in battle do now. You’ve seen just about everything. You only grin and, tapping the center of the pokéball once, you throw it out into the battleground. In a bright flash of evanescent white, a draconic figure emerges. Tough and vibrant, with a long, flamed-tipped tail that is lit and flickering, the Charizard surveys the crowd; it takes him a moment to react. He looks back at you first, with an obvious tinge of amusement in his black eyes, then to the giant Venusaur in front of him. He snorts as if this battle is nothing (though you both know equally well that is anything but nothing), and with a loud roar, he sends a long thread of dark flame into the sky: his battle cry.
The Champion gestures for you to make the first move, and you take it.
He roars once before bolting up into the blue noonday sky, wings spread wide, each flap taking him higher and higher, until his body is finally in front of the sun, so it’s harder for the opponents below to see him.
The Champion is not a Champion for nothing; he does not hesitate. "Solar Beam."
Nor do you. "When the Venusaur uses Solar Beam, dodge it and dive."
He prepares for it, his wings slanting in expectation, and you know he’s ready to dodge. Moments later, the Venusaur releases the beam of concentrated light, and then he dives, evading the Solar Beam by mere inches. He is forced to continue his downward course as the Venusaur moves to direct the Solar Beam to the left, trying to score a hit before the energy runs out.
The beam begins to fade into nothing more than a few harmless yellow waves. And your Charizard, heartened by this, picks up speed, bellowing in challenge. The Venusaur is too slow and large to even try to evade the attack, and hasn’t yet had time to regain her breath.
Sharp, pointed claws rake across the Venusaur’s tough skin and fragile foliage, leaving deep scratch marks and ripped pieces of leaf and petal in their wake. Your Charizard then cranes his neck as he flies past and spits out a small Flamethrower for good measure. You hear him grunt in satisfaction as the Venusaur cries out in pain, her roar as deep as an earthen drum. Your Charizard begins to ascend, so he does not see the thick vine that emerges from the Venusaur’s body until it is too late.
With a harsh crack, the tough vine wraps around your Charizard’s ankle like a whip, and with a tough, vengeful jerk she brings the Charizard back to her own level – face-first. It’s the Venusaur’s turn to grunt in satisfaction as your Charizard struggles to rise. He is too close to the Venusaur for your own liking, now only a foot away from the green behemoth, the vine still securely wrapped around his leg.
A plethora of vines then burst out from all around the Venusaur’s body (how it’s even possible she has that many is an amazement to you) just as your Charizard picks himself up. You know you have to fend them off before it gets worse. Some of them are already beginning to curl around the lower half of the dragon’s body.
The quick attack is spit out – the tiny, blackened shards of fire fending off the rest of the green appendages for now. The Champion sees this, and he meets your eyes. You know what he is going to do without trying. You would do the same in his place.
But you are going to try to stop it. “Flamethrower!”
A thick cloud of yellow, paralyzing powder is sent forth in a giant cloud that surrounds both Pokémon. So thick is it, you can barely see your fire-type through the haze (it then strikes you how desperate the Venusaur must be to conjure up such a copious amount).
The Stun Spore is already beginning to disperse into the air, and now you can see enough of your companion’s body to watch him raise his head, open his lethal jaws, and inhale deeply –
But he stops in mid-breath, and you can hear a raspy sort of sputter come from him. The paralysis must be taking hold. Meanwhile, the Venusaur seizes her chance. Green appendages hiss as they cut through the air. They are all around him now: his arms, his legs, his torso… some are even curling about his neck, preparing to constrict and strangle.
(You face flushes in anger at this, and a bunch of expletives cross your mind, but you do not say them. You also think the move the Champion is using is low, but the referees say nothing about it, so you say nothing, but your mind is raging… But you will take care of that later. What matters is the here and now: you cannot let the Venusaur continue. )
You call out to your Pokémon by name (not his species name, but the true name you gave in Viridian Forest, when you and he first became acquainted). You know he hears you, and you cry out, voice desperate and pleading. You cannot allow the paralysis to take hold just yet. You can’t.
“Flamethrower! Please! You have to use it!”
He hears your desperation – you know he does. The lungful of air he had taken in previously is released along with a torrent of white-hot fire. Nothing is held back. The flame washes over skin and plant like a giant tide, burning away many of the vines that cross the Flamethrower’s path towards the Venusaur’s face, where it hits with all the possible fury the Charizard can muster – and he does not stop there. The fire flows out of the dragon’s throat until he can exhale no more and the smell of burned flesh mingles with the smokey, spore filled air.
The Venusaur is still standing. The vines that have not been severely burned still hold tight around their quarry. The Venusaur is weary but alive, and it's only then you notice the she was channeling the sun’s rays into energy meant to heal and restore, though in this case it merely kept her conscious with enough energy to carry on.
You curse aloud, watching as your Charizard succumbs to the paralysis, body twitching as he tries to move his limbs but can’t. He can’t fight off the vines that now are twisting around his neck in order to stop him from breathing fire.
The audience has hushed. No longer do you hear the excited screams and cheers for both sides. Only silence. And out of the silence, you hear the Champion speak, his eyes glimmering like ice while his tone is just as cold.
“Hold him down. Use Solar Beam.
The vines constrict, but that is not what you are most worried about
: it is the flower upon the Venusaur’s back that you are most concerned over. Already the center of the flower is filling with the sun’s rays, glowing with a horrid white-yellow light. The going is slow, thankfully. You can see the grass-type is straining to gather each essential bit of energy for the final attack that will, if it’s not stopped, bring about the end of the match – the end of your dream.
(And you don’t intend to let your dream go so quickly. Not after you have come this far.)
The only way to win is to stop the attack from charging, and fast. The Venusaur can’t hold out for much longer. Another strong attack might be enough to knock the beast out for the count. First, though, you have to get your Charizard to move. You know some of the bonds that hold him are fragile, weakened by fire’s burning touch.
(Don’t give in without a fight.)
Taking a deep breath, you shout out his name again and you can see him strain his head to look at you; his pupils are constricted, like a cat’s. Your eyes meet his ruby ones and you nod your head, only once.
True fire might not be an option now, but you can still settle for the next best thing.
“Dragon Claw!” you shout. “Finish it!"
With agonizing slowness, your Charizard begins to strain against his bonds. One of his claws is now surrounded by a pale green nimbus, and the vines wrapped around it recoil, loosening, while he strives against the bonds that hold him. (They are not strong enough to push him away.) Then, mustering the last of his strength, your Charizard strikes.
Green flames dance over the surprised plant-type, setting the already burned foliage alight with dragon-fire, while merciless claws dig into the already burned, tender skin in a last desperate attempt to snatch victory out of the claws of chance.
Then, as soon as it began, the attack is over. The Venusaur is swaying while your Charizard doesn’t move from his upright position.
Vines loosen. The Venusaur teeters dangerously on her feet until she can keep herself conscious no longer and slumps onto the arena floor and moves no more. The vines fall away and your Charizard is given room to breathe. A few seconds of respite are all you’re given before the referee is forced to give judgment. The noise of the crowd erupts anew, drowning out the sound of the referee’s voice. But what has just happened is clear: you are the new Champion.
Another few seconds go by before you fully comprehend what has just happened. But when it does, it hits you like a brick. Your heart shoots up in your chest, and you think for a moment it just might leap out as the euphoria swells deep within you. Only the feelings of self-consciousness keep you from jumping up and down in your trainer box – that and the fact your Charizard still hasn’t moved.
You find it strange that he isn’t up beside you. He may be paralyzed, but that hasn’t stopped him before. You notice his tail flame is low – dangerously low, and though he may be on his feet, he hasn’t moved, not even to shrug off the limp pieces of vine that have not fallen off his body.
It is then you first know something is wrong.
The noise of the crowd lessens while the sound of your own heartbeat magnifies a hundredfold. You stare, eyes concerned. You call out his name to see if he’ll respond.
He only turns his head to stare at you, his muzzle open wide like he is breathing hard... but he isn’t. His eyes roll, and to your horror, he collapses. Even as he’s falling, you run out of the trainer box, knowing, just knowing, something is wrong. A thousand different thoughts flutter through your mind in one spontaneous instant.
Don’t let anything be wrong.
It can’t go wrong.
It’s not right, it’s not fair.
He’s just fainted, that’s all. Nothing more.
You’re kneeling at his side now, silently saying his name over and over. He doesn’t respond to your pleas, and your heartbeat quickens. He’s
You suddenly notice that he’s not breathing. There’s no reassuring rise and fall of his chest, no wispy smoke billowing out of his nose as he exhales.
You panic, and everything suddenly becomes a blur.
(Figures are melded; red is blue and green is black; noises sound fuzzy and distant, distorted like a Screech had just disrupted your whole system; voices sound garbled, mixed around like words in a paper shredder.)
You are barely aware that the stand-by medic has noticed your distress until two Machoke flit in front of your eyes, lifting a prone body of a Charizard onto a large stretcher. Your Charizard. They lift the stretcher effortlessly, leaving you behind to watch them go farther and farther away.
Suddenly, your emotions kick in. “Wait!” you scream. Well, you try to, but no words come. It’s as though your voice is gone, coming out as nothing more than a pitiful squeak.
Your head is spinning. They can’t just take him away and leave you. You’re his friend, you’ve been with him since the beginning. What right have they to leave you here? Shaking your head in an attempt to clear your mind (to dispel this waking nightmare) you finally compose yourself enough to sprint after them.
You do not see the concerned look the former Champion gives you as he recalls his Venusaur back into her pokéball. You also do not notice the group of reporters that are coming across the field, cameras flashing. Everything is going by so fast, and you’re barely aware that tears are brimming at the corners of your eyes. It’s as if your whole body has been set on auto-pilot, your attention focused solely on the cold metal stretcher and your Charizard’s diminishing tail flame. It’s barely candle-sized now.
You are seconds behind the Machoke in entering the Pokémon Center, the strong scent of ammonia reaching your nose. The resident Nurse Joy and two Chansey are already waiting for you. Already, you see her blue-grey eyes wander over the Charizard’s prone form, giving him a quick check-over. You watch her carefully, hopefully, and you see her mouth twist ever-so-slightly into a frown, but it quickly disappears as she looks at you, giving you a faint smile. She gestures to the Machoke, and she mutters something indistinguishable and the Chansey hasten to obey her orders, issuing high-pitched squeaks of their own, before both scuttle into the emergency room. One of them peeks around the corner, beckoning the Machoke inside with stubby pink hands.
Your heart can’t help but clench painfully in your chest as the Machoke move, taking your Charizard with them. You can’t even see his tail flame anymore. Frightened, you make a move to follow them inside the ER, but Nurse Joy stops you, placing a cold, pale hand on your shoulder. It’s meant to be comforting, but it isn’t.
“Please –” you start to say, barely able to control the waver in your voice.
Instead of hearing you out, she says in a fake, cheery voice that sounds robotic: “We’ll take it from here. Everything is going to be all right. Your Charizard is in good hands.”
“You don’t understand –“
She cuts you off again. “I understand completely. We’ll notify you if anything happens.”
Without a backwards glance, she heads into the emergency room, leaving you to stare at the blank, white walls. Of all the emotions rising within you, anger and frustration erupt to the top.
Who does she think she is?
She says she understands, but you know she doesn’t. She knows medical terminology and stuff, but she doesn’t know
Pokémon like you do.
How would she know that your Charizard hates to be alone with people he doesn’t know?
How would she know that he hates needles?
If he wakes up, will she know how to handle him? Can she comfort him like you do when he’s frightened or sad?
So how would she know that leaving you out her is best for him? How can she tell you that everything is going to be all right when you can plainly see that it's everything but all right?
Tears are making your vision blurry, and you are hit with a sudden dizzy spell. You stumble over to a corner where soft, blue chairs and a wooden table are placed. You fight the urge to bury your head in the polyester cushion, instead pinching yourself to see if maybe, just maybe, you’ll wake up from this horrid nightmare.
(Wake up! Wake up! Rise!)
But the pinch hurts, and when you open your watery eyes, the scenery is just the same: blank, uncomforting, and cold. The only difference is that there is a Blissey in front of you, clutching a tissue in her small, knobby paws.
She smiles widely. You take the tissue she offers you, but you don’t use it to dry your eyes. Instead, it's clutched tightly in your fist, and you squeeze it, as if squeezing it will make everything go away. The Blissey is still staring at you, her pink and white rotund body teetering back and forth. The front doors whiz open, and the silence is shattered.
Flashes. Bright, inconsiderate flashes of light illuminate your face, momentarily blinding you. Normally you wouldn’t have thought twice about giving these rude people a piece of your mind. But not right now. You are in no mood for fighting (and you don’t know when you will ever be again).
You are barraged with questions from a thousand different voices, all clamoring to get the first word out of you, but you aren’t going to give it to them.
Why must they ask such questions? Don’t they see you are in no mood to talk? Don’t they see that you are gently shaking? Your pale, tear-stained face?
How do you feel about being the next Champion?
How do you feel the battle with the former Champion went? Are you pleased? Surprised? Disappointed? What did you have to do to get this far?
Are you all right? What happened to your Charizard? Is there anything we can do?
be feeling if you didn't know whether your Pokémon was okay or not?
you want to shout out in retaliation, but you don’t. You still do not trust yourself to speak, afraid that if you do, your voice will break, and maybe if you don’t speak, these people will go away.
The reporters and other various people that have shown up show no sign of leaving or giving up. They stick microphones in your face and many try to touch you on the shoulder, to grab your attention, but you are aware enough to wave them off. This doesn’t seem to deter them. They are forming a circle around you like a bunch of carrion birds over a dead carcass, and the Blissey, who has been standing by your side the whole time, is pushed roughly out of the way.
Out of the corner of your eyes, you see the Blissey’s face scrunch up, her eyebrows forming a perfect wedge, while her eyes sparkle with a dark light. The corners of her mouth twitch, and her pink and white body seems to grow in size – like it’s made of elastic. She looks about ready to burst, a furious pink balloon of fury. She stands on her tiptoes, and you see her shoot furtive glances from left to right.
“Listen –“ you finally say, your voice wavering, but you are cut off as the endless tirade of questions bombards you.
(Can’t they just go away?)
The Blissey is now walking purposely forward, waving her arms back and forth. You stand up just as the Blissey enters the crowd, pushing through the people with her oval-shaped body, her gaze that of righteous fury…
Three successful Egg Bombs later, you find yourself in a small guest room into which the Blissey has ushered you. You are sitting down on the bottom bed, looking out the window when she comes in again three minutes later. You see she has brought a bowl with her, full of what looks like an egg salad. She sets it on the coffee table, looking up at you expectantly.
"Umm... thank you."
Your voice is weird, and she notices it. She gives you an odd look and seems about ready to say something when a horde of loud, obnoxious voices waft from outside the door. Her face comically scrunches up again, and her mouth takes the form of a scowl. She quickly leaves the room, pulling the door shut. Now that she’s gone, you can’t help but feel that her endeavor, though good-hearted in nature, was a waste of time: any appetite you had is all but gone, and your thoughts are elsewhere.
Still, you poke at the egg salad and sigh, looking at the window just in time to see a small flock of Pidgey fly past. As a few minutes go by, you think you can hear singing, gentle and soft, coming from just outside your door, but you aren’t too sure. You suddenly feel sleepy, and all the thoughts in your head are jumbled as you sink into a dreamless sleep.
(You don’t know that it was the Blissey that was humming a sleep-song outside your door. You also don’t know that it was she who guarded your room from invaders for the rest of the afternoon that you slept away. You also don’t know that she sent exactly fifteen Pokémon to Nurse Joy, all suffering mild to severe concussions. You also don’t know that eight trainers now sport black eyes because they asked one too many questions.)
When you wake up again, it is far into the evening.
Exactly forty-five minutes later you find out your Charizard is dead.
It takes you three days to accept it.
Only when you have no more tears to shed and a no longer have a voice to scream do they tell you how he died.
He died from paralysis of the lungs: he suffocated to death. When the Venusaur released the thick cloud of Stun Spore, your Charizard inhaled in order to use Flamethrower. Simply put, he inhaled the Stun Spore, breathing it deeply into his lungs while the deadly particles settled there, paralyzing not only his lungs, but the muscles and tissue around them.
A freak accident, they call it.
They say they tried to save him, administering all sorts of potions and antidotes to cure paralysis. But with it so deeply rooted in the lungs, the malady was hard to dispel, and by then, it was too late. He was already gone.
(But you suddenly think you knew that he was dead the moment the Machoke had carried him away, your mind was just too busy denying it to listen to your heart.)
How the Charizard was even able to fight and stay conscious as long as he did surprises the medical staff.
It doesn’t surprise you. He always gave you his best and more besides. He would forgo food and gladly suffer pain to make sure you were satisfied and well taken care of.
Once, when you and he were traveling through a dense forest, you fell ill, so much so you could barely move around anywhere. It was your Charizard (who was naught but a Charmander at the time) who made sure that there was always a fire to keep you warm at night. It was he who found the wood and he who found the berries for you to eat, knowing instinctively of their healing properties. Often, you suspected he went without food, because he gave you all of it instead so you would get better.
The situation that had just occurred is no different. He made sure that you accomplished your dream, even though the cost was his own life.
It’s a gift you have trouble accepting.
“Cheer up,” they tell you. “Everything will be better. Think positive. You’re the new Champion.”
But you can’t cheer up. Not right now. The wound is still too fresh, too deep, and it’s slow to heal. Right now, they are doing little more than pouring salt into it, aggravating it more and sparking your temper.
Your temper has been easier to spark ever since he died and to all but a few, you acidly respond: “Only when you figure out how to revive the dead will everything be better.”
(They don’t have a response for that.)
You don’t have your Charizard buried, like many thought you would. You have lots of money now, so you could have bought him a large, grandiose tomb, befitting of his noble line, and let him be buried up in Mt. Silver, where only the Elite Four, and a few other privileged people have access to . But you don’t. Instead, you have him cremated. And leaving atop your Skarmory, you take his ashes and intend to slowly fly over the places you and he journeyed to and sprinkle a bit of his ashes over the most important of them. That way, wherever you go, there will be a little bit of him there. Besides, you know he never liked to be confined to one space.
The first place you visit is the Viridian Forest. It’s the place you and he first began your journey. You gave him his name (his special name that only you could call him) here.
Pewter City: Your first gym battle – how could you forget? It was your first win against a Gym Leader. You also can’t forget the look in his innocent Charmander-eyes as they gazed up at the ancient Pokémon fossils housed in the museum in amazement and awe. You think he wanted to evolve into an Aerodactyl someday. He was so naïve then.
Mt. Moon: You danced with the Clefairy here, after having accidentally come upon them during their Midsummer’s Eve Ritual. Neither of you thought you’d make it out alive unless you danced with them. A pity you didn’t know then they were gentle creatures, but because of it, you stayed up until the late hours of the morning after you and he ‘escaped’, telling tales of barbaric Clefairy who made their victims dance until they died. (You were both hopelessly young then…)
Cerulean City: You lost your first Gym Battle here. Afterwards, you were depressed enough you suddenly weren’t sure if you wanted to be a Pokémon Trainer anymore, because you thought you were no good. But you tried again, and won.
Celadon City: How were you supposed to know he was allergic to the perfumes Erika made?
The Cycling Road: He evolved into Chameleon here, after a group of wannabe thug bikers threatened you. (You could’ve handled it without him having to evolve and torch their motorcycles. Really. You could’ve.)
Lavender Town: It was here you discovered that you and he were both deathly afraid of ghost-types. You recall running out of Lavender Town’s Pokemon Tower, scared half out of your mind while your Charizard (then a Charmeleon) ran after you, quite clearly. You both had nightmares for months afterward.
Fuchsia City: If you remember correctly, it was he who ticked off the Scyther in the Safari Zone. Not you.
The Sevii Islands: He evolved into his final form here, though you aren’t sure which island it was, exactly. It was just after you had run and jumped off a cliff. He probably thought you were suicidal when he evolved into his draconic form, bolting into the sky on his newfound wings, only to find that you were resting safely on your new Skarmory’s back, because you were teaching her how to Fly.
Your home is your final stop. You land just outside your mother and father’s house, and without going in and telling your parents that you’re finally home (What has it been? Three years? Four?) you recall your Skarmory back into her pokéball, heading purposely into the backyard. You walk slowly, inhaling in the clean air, tinged with the fresh smell of the berry trees that your parents grow here.
It’s so peaceful out here…
you think, pulling out a small bag from your pocket.
Inside, it holds the last remnants of your first Pokémon. Slowly, you open the drawstrings that keep the contents inside, staring at the black, dull ashes that were once a living, breathing creature who, once upon a time, flew unchallenged across the heavenly sky.
You move towards the cliff edge that overlooks the sea. A gentle wind is blowing.
You take a deep breath.
(Time will freeze, Eternity will wait, and Death will stop its inevitable course for these few precious moments. For they are yours, and forever will be. )
You slowly lift up the ash filled bag, and you hesitate for only a moment more –
(It’s hard letting go. You never really got to say good-bye)
— before you scatter the remaining contents to the wind.
Joined Oct 2005
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