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December 12th, 2012 (12:51 PM).
you can breathe now. x
chapter 15 ; [EZREM]
Ah, how nice it was to have things go my way once in a great while.
I do mean that. It truly felt like it had been a long time since the positive side of life had catered to me. First, there was Annie’s death… which I tried not to dwell on, but it seemed to keep showing up in my life, thanks to Rennio’s obvious and subsequent grief. Then, I spent the longest time looking for a new trainer. When I finally found him, he had rejected me faster than I could blink! And now… that new trainer was already gone, off doing whatever, wherever. It was like Annie’s disappearance all over again—except this time, an air of uncertainty wafted about us. I couldn’t imagine what that had done to poor Rennio! If things like this kept happening, not only would he have issues about death and loss, but he would have abandonment issues, too. Well, I could at least make sure that I stayed with him, even if Sai despised me.
And so far, that was exactly what I did. Even when Sai, my main reasoning for staying, left, I remained by Rennio’s side. I stood by the team. I even offered to be the leader! Seeing Senori send us out into the wild once more was the last thing I wanted, especially when it reminded me of Annie, so I wanted to take over. That didn’t go as planned. (I had started learning that most things, when done for my selfish reasons, didn’t go as planned.) I agreed to let go of my offer if I was with Kuiora, because at least she treated me with some respect. She marveled over me every chance she got! It was a boost to my ego which I always so desperately needed.
Still, I didn’t like Senori for bringing us closer to the place that had caused me so much pain in the past. I looked for any way to get back at him, and when the backpack was stolen (which, contrary to popular belief, I had no part of) I found my chance. I told Rennio that all of Goldenrod City’s citizens were nice people, and that Senori and him should go see them and try to get more supplies. I knew that the city people probably weren’t so nice, as I had learned in the past that snobbish people often lived in big, expensive cities like this one. Apparently, Rennio hadn’t noticed. And I could tell by the look on Senori’s face when he returned that things hadn’t gone as well as he had previously hoped. It was a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.
Kuiora’s called me evil for it—and various other things—a few times, but I don’t like that term. It makes me sound worse than I actually thought I was. I preferred being called… ethically unfettered.
Yes, that sounded about right.
“So, what do you think is wrong with Sai?” Kuiora asked me once. We were sitting against the trees near the entrance—or exit, depending how you looked at it—of Ilex Forest. I was sure that the rest of the team couldn’t hear us, so I didn’t bother telling her to hush, as Sai seemed to be a complex, confusing, and argumentative topic among the group.
“As if I know!” I said, my eyes closed as I rested. “Haven’t you been with him longer?”
“Of course I have,” she retorted. “But you’re a legendary, so you should know these things.”
Legendary. I wasn’t legendary, that much was very clear to me. I had been given special treatment before, for some unknown reason… but no one went so far as to bow down to me. To her, however, I was the most important thing in life! I was the last thing she thought about before she went to sleep at night, and I was the first thing she thought of when she awoke in the morning. I was the one she worshipped and put before her own self. Religion, I knew, was something that people and pokémon believe for the same reason children believe in fairy tales: it gives them false, redeeming hope. I could provide that for her, I supposed. So I had to continue playing my newfound role, or it would be lost forever.
“Well,” I said, thinking, “it’s like Sai has read the handbook for human behavior, but he didn’t quite understand most of the instructions.”
“Tell me about it,” Kuiora said, and her calmer demeanor told me I had done well in answering her, even though I was being about as vague as I could possibly get. “You think there’s really someone following him?”
“Who knows? Paranoia is poisonous. It’s a poisonous wish that makes everything become true, so even if it’s not true, it’s at least real in his mind.”
“I know. He better not go off and get himself killed or anything,” I said softly.
“Death,” Kuiora said, her chin lifted, “is just a myth invented to scare young children.”
“You think so?” I said, looking up at her. I knew she was young, but to be this naïve about such a pertinent concept seemed unreal to me. Could I possibly tell her about Annie, about what I did? Surely, she would accept that it was the work of a legendary; it was something that simply had to be done to communicate with other fellow legendaries. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. There was always the off chance that she could tell someone else… and I mostly worried about Rennio finding out. It would have simply broken his heart into a million more pieces.
“Yeah. There’s all these stories about dying too soon, or too late, or in the most horrible ways, and it’s all meant to scare people and pokémon like me. I don’t know why anyone would go to the trouble to make those things up! If you believe in the legendary pokémon, you can never die. It’s as simple as that. They’ll always remember you, no matter what happens to you.”
How delusional, I thought, but didn’t say anything.
A few moments of silence passed before she changed the topic and said, “Do you want to hear a story?”
“Yes! I know plenty of stories about rare and legendary pokémon. You might already know this story, but I’d like to tell you anyway. It’s about your evolved form.”
At this I was intrigued. There were tales about my species? About my evolved form? Now, that was something. I nodded, wanting to hear more.
“Okay,” she said. “Most stories try to avoid spoiling the end. But you need to know before we decide to continue: she didn’t want to come back.”
“Shut up, and listen to the story!” she snapped, hitting me lightly in the face.
“With a temper like yours, I’m truly surprised the world is still here…” I said, rubbing the spot where she hit me.
“Shut up,” she said again. “Do you want to hear this or not?”
“Yes, yes. I will be quiet,” I said. For thinking I was a legendary pokémon, she sure still had a lot of guts, standing up to me the way she did. Maybe she believed that it was a way for legendaries to remember her better, I thought—it was the best I could think of, and I admired it, in a way.
And so, she went on.
There once was a girl who was a con. She was a con because she became close to anyone and everyone she came into contact with in Unova, just to steal their hearts. Everyone became enamored with her at first sight, and they always wanted to be there for her, always wanted to be by her side, even in the darkest moments. But she was only with them for her own benefit. She just wanted their money, their jewelry, their priceless heirlooms—anything that she could get her hands on successfully, and in a decent amount of time.
But one day, she stole too much. She had taken a diamond ring that her boyfriend—whom she pretended to care for—had bought for her, and then immediately left him in the dust. And she didn’t have an explanation for this boy who had come to love her so much, so he kept bothering her and bothering her, becoming for threatening each time, hoping for an answer. This was the first time that anyone had ever called her out on her selfish crimes, and she couldn’t handle it. Somehow, she had let her guard down, and now, it was time to pay for all that she had done. She decided to leave the town.
Leaving by train or by plane was out of the question, as it was easy to follow those who left that way. Besides, to take a plane or a train meant that she would know where she was going, and she had not a clue where to go.
She decided to leave in a hot air balloon that she had taken from an old friend, to put it to good use and to make sure she wasn’t followed to wherever she was going. She made sure it was a light blue hot air balloon, so that if anyone looked into the sky at the exact same moment she was passing by, they wouldn’t notice her, as she was blending in perfectly.
But her plan still backfired. The boyfriend had been a trainer once, and a very strong one at that. He sent his braviary out to look for her, because he knew that the braviary would not give up, no matter what. It took many days and nights to find her, but the braviary eventually located her hovering above the sea. And then it took many days and nights for the braviary to turn around and come back home, but she wouldn’t listen. She was starting to feel bad for all she had done, and she couldn’t face the past.
What happened next was both karma and a stroke of luck all at once. A streak of lightning crashed down on the hot air balloon one night when there was a storm, and she went careening, along with the remains of the balloon, into the water below. But the braviary, despite its confusion and disdain for the girl’s audacity and thievery, caught her in its claws just as she was about to break her fall. It took her home, and from there, the girl worked to improve her life so that she could form real relationships that she reciprocated fully.
“The end,” she said. She added hastily, “Of course, if we were at Professor Elm’s lab, there’d be pictures and stuff, but we don’t have that here. Sorry.”
I thought about the story for a moment. How appropriate, to hear a story about my species and have the human in question have a similar personality to my own. Perhaps Kuiora had done that on purpose, or maybe it was just fate to have the guilt of thievery follow me wherever I went. The difference between me and the story was simple: I couldn’t save anyone, not even Rennio. That was definite, it was a given. And besides that, there was something else bugging me.
“I have a question,” I said after a few moments, not wanting to make her angry, but I was genuinely wondering about this, above all else.
“Legendaries aren’t owned by trainers. It’s just not feasible, right?”
“Yeah, legendaries are far too powerful. Why?”
“Well, the braviary in the story is owned by a trainer. So, by default, the braviary is not a legendary pokémon. And, well, Sai has me as his pokémon. Kind of, anyway. So…” I explained, trailing off. I braced myself, waiting to be hit again or something. But surprisingly, she had an answer for me.
“Rufflet and braviary are really rare. I heard they can only be caught by the toughest of trainers on Victory Road! That’s almost legendary status. You’re right, normal rufflet and braviary aren’t legendary. But you, Ezrem, are legendary, and for a very special reason!”
“What reason is that?” I asked, so very curious to hear something that could potentially redeem my terrible personality.
But I didn’t get my answer, as I was knocked in the head by something other than Kuiora’s fist. I let out a tiny squeal of surprise, and looked in the opposite direction, wondering what on earth the team was trying to do to me—probably trying to get revenge somehow, I thought. But I didn’t see the team. All I saw was a red and white object on the grass.
“Oh, man,” I said. “Not this again.”
“What’s wrong? What was that?”
“A trainer’s trying to catch me. As usual. It happened a lot in the forest. Look”—I frantically looked around, and saw a girl running up to us—“I have to go. You should hide if you can,” I said, and with that, I darted away from her, away from the rest of the team.
At first, I didn’t know where to go. All I could think about was why so many trainers were after me. Yes, rufflet were rare. Yes, rufflet were usually only found in Unova. But it didn’t mean that every trainer who looked at my pretty face had to come after me so aggressively! I considered myself lucky because no one could officially catch me by pokéball, thanks to Annie, but there were other means of catching a pokémon, I knew. The trainer could try to battle me and take me by force. I know—trainers have tried.
Before I knew it, I was heading back into Ilex Forest. I passed the gates and the guards, their expressions more curious than alarmed. It wasn’t the brightest idea, heading back to the place that brought so much pain for me, but it was a lot easier to hide amongst a bunch of trees than it was amongst clear, open paths.
I dared to stop and look behind me for a moment to see if the girl was still following me. Indeed, she was, and she didn’t seem to have any intentions on losing me in the forest. Well, we would see about that. I darted to the left, crossing a pond by running on the rocks that stood out above the water. The human tried to cross, too, but since she was much larger than me, she was also going much slower.
I made my way through this part of the forest, and of course came upon the burnt part of it, the one I had so casually knocked down in the past. Though it would hurt, I decided to stay here, because it was more likely for the girl to try to find me in an area with a lot of trees, rather than a part of the forest that had a small amount of hiding places. I slowed down now, sure that she wouldn’t catch up. I started walking, surveying the damage. I stepped over dropped tree branches, had to go around fallen trunks, saw nothing but debris polluting a nearby body of water… I saw no pokémon—surely no one would want to live here anymore.
And the next time I turned, I came across another pokéball. It was floating in the nearby pond. Curious, I made my way into the water until I could grab it. When I got out of the water, I examined it. The ball showed no sign of being affected by the fire, so maybe it was a fairly new item here, or maybe it had been spared. And it was a special kind of pokéball, not just a regular red and white one…
It looked like the one Annie had had for me—it was blue on top and white on bottom, with two stripes of red on the sides. A great ball, she had called it once, though I didn’t see what was so great about it. But it hit me—this could be my pokéball! This could have once belonged to Annie! Now, I had to decide what to do with it… Who knew how much time I had to consider, given my situation?
Part of me wanted to destroy the pokéball. Part of me wanted to be set free of Annie’s grasp—forever. If that was the route I went down, I would crush the pokéball and make it crumble into a bunch of pieces. Part of me thought this was a bad idea, because then maybe other trainers could really catch me with pokéballs now. Is that even how it worked? After all this time traveling, I didn’t know. And then, part of me was skeptical, wondering if it was really my pokéball at all. What if there was a pokémon inside? If I destroyed the pokéball, would the pokémon inside die? I didn’t want to kill anyone else…
I heard a rustle, and the girl appeared once more.
So she had followed me to the burnt area of the forest. She was smarter than I gave her credit for. Luckily for her, I suddenly didn’t have the energy to move. I turned to face her, and we stared at each other for a few moments. I realized the direness of the situation once more—she wanted me as her pokémon, when I already belonged to someone else. I went to run again, but she called for me to wait.
“Wait,” she said again. “That pokéball might belong to my brother! We’ve been looking for it for a long time.”
I stood there, unsure of what to do. Part of me wanted the ball to be mine after all, and part of me wanted to give it to this girl and forget this whole situation had even happened.
I looked at the girl again, seeing that she was putting away the pokéball she had in her hand. She put up her arms and said, “My name is Sasha. I won’t catch you if that’s what you want… Please, could I just have the ball, and I’ll leave you alone?”
Two new players of this game showed up—Kuiora, and a boy who looked like this Sasha girl. Great, I thought. Now I had to worry about Kuiora being caught—what if Sai hadn’t properly caught her in a pokéball?—and I had to worry about the new guy potentially chasing us.
“Ezrem, why did you run away like that?” Kuiora said, walking up to me and looking me over, as if to see whether or not I sustained any damage.
“She was trying to catch me,” I said simply.
“Look, Marty, it might be Halcyon’s ball. Remember, you dropped it while we were out here?” Sasha said. I looked down at the ball, so curious about its true origins. How hard it was, to think about the possibility of passing up this once in a lifetime chance!
“Oh. That’s right. So that… bird… has it?”
“It’s a rufflet, from Unova! I was trying to catch it to give it to you for your birthday, since pokémon like that one are one in a million! But it didn’t work…”
“It’s the thought that counts, right? Besides, that Sai’s croconaw. Looks like it’s his… rufflet, too.”
“Sai? I didn’t see him anywhere…”
“Oh…” said Kuiora. She whispered into my ear: “That Marty kid really hates Sai. We can’t let him know that Sai’s disappeared or they’ll kill each other for sure.”
Then, to Marty, she said, “Sai’s out shopping.”
I automatically said, “Sai is sleeping at the pokémon center, and we’re out here exploring.” This, of course, only got me knocked in the head by Kuiora again for telling two completely different stories.
“I don’t know what they just said, but I’m fairly sure whatever the rufflet said can’t be repeated in polite conversation,” Marty said sarcastically.
“Idiot,” I said, now realizing that our efforts were futile, since they couldn’t understand us, anyway. “And I was almost destined to be your pokémon? As if.”
“Sai’s probably letting them run rampant on purpose. Go figure,” Marty said.
“You should really be nicer to him. He does try.”
“Not hard enough.”
At this, I threw the great ball directly at Marty’s face. At this point, I didn’t care if the ball was mine. I was just glad that I hadn’t been caught by this imbecile, and that I hadn’t chosen him during the battle between him and Sai. I felt fiercely proud of having Annie as a trainer, and therefore suddenly didn’t care if I was still bound by her or not. She was never so stuck up and she never looked down upon others the way he did. Sasha, on the other hand, was nice—but it didn’t stop me from being a jerk to her brother! And of course, there was Sai, who was nice to me half the time and completely ignorant during the other half.
“Thanks a lot,” Marty muttered, rubbing his head as he reached down to get the pokéball. “Let’s go, Sasha.”
I stuck out my tongue at them as they turned to leave, with Sasha looking back at me one more time, regretfully. I also got another hit in the head from Kuiora once they were gone. Soon, I would have a permanent bump there.
“Well, should we go back, too?” Kuiora said. “Senori might kill us if he realizes we’ve been gone.”
“I’ll only go with you if you stop saying that word,” I said, but I was already walking in the direction that would lead us back to the team.
“Don’t make me say it.”
“Don’t make me guess it.”
I turned, walking backwards so I could glare at her. “If you’re going to say it, then stop following me.”
“I’m not following you. I’m following the path,” she said, pointedly keeping her gaze on the horizon just to prove a point.
I sighed. I felt that this was one of the longest days ever. Still, some things had been made concrete to me. Kuiora cared about me, for one. This meant more to me than I could say. There was always Rennio, but Rennio stood by my side because he didn’t know my faults. Kuiora knew I had faults, knew that there was plenty of them to go around, but she stayed with me, and she even put me on a rather high pedestal.
In addition, it appeared that I cared for Annie more than I originally thought I did. For the first time, I had felt pride over being her past pokémon, and I didn’t mind the fact that I gave up the possibility of destroying my old pokéball. She was always in the back of my mind, whether I liked it or not. She kept my conscience at bay. I vowed to continue trying to be good, for her—once I figured out what good was, anyway.
In a more general sense, I had learned that having something wasn’t the same as keeping something. It was a lesson I wished I hadn’t learned, but such was life. This meant that just because I had Rennio and Kuiora’s love, it didn’t mean that it would last forever. Just because Annie had been there for me once, didn’t mean that she would ever be there for me again. Just because I thought Sai would make a great trainer for me, didn’t mean that he would actually live up to my expectations. And just because I would have made my home in the future, didn’t mean that it would stay with me forever.
Yes, there were many levels to my pain. I unraveled each level, one by one, as we went back to the team, wondering and wishing. The pain wasn’t like a knife, or like fire, or ice, or any of a thousand other metaphors. It was simply just pain. And it drowned out the rest of the world as I felt a harsh, white flash of sensation take over, reminding me that I should try a little harder.
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