Well, I've had writer's block since They Called Us Twins, which is just fan-fricking-tastic. Anywho, played around with a piece I had done for WAR and made it into my tribute to BMG. No idea why.
Oh, and I wrote about half of this on my iPod. So sorry if it sucks. D:
Target Pokémon: Bulbasaur (Hard), Litwick (Hard)
Target Character Count: 40-60K
Actual Character Count: 51,346... I think?
And that's right. I wrote for a Bulbasaur. AND THERE'S NOT A DARNED THING YA CAN DO ABOUT IT. Except, like, grade and fail them both. XD
She stands there grimly, watching the purple fires lick at the grasses and roots with grudging ferocity. She sways slightly on her feet, holding back tears through closed eyes, but it is hard. Her whole world is slipping out from beneath her, after all. As the fires continue in their uncaring destruction, she cannot understand.
She has never meant for it to end this way. The had started out as a team, the two of them. Sure, their numbers had swelled, from two to seven over the years, but they had promised to be there always for each other. The two of them.
The fires devour, their hungry flames lapping at the roots, now. Charred ashes fall to the ground as the great pillar withers in the heat. It's over, and she knows it.
A single green leaf floats out of the inferno, landing in her stunned hands. Mutely, gently, she reaches for it, snatching it protectively and holding it close to her heart.
She watches the flames until she can bear it no longer. And then she turns away.
The crowd's cheers echoed in roars in her ears, a din that echoes and snarls like a wild beast.
She stood tall at her end of the field, trying ever so desperately not to quiver from the fear that settled like a thunder cloud in the pit of her stomach. She had come too far, she knew, to lose after so much had been lost already. Especially not to him, of all people.
Her dark brown hair fluttered like a caged bird in the air, flapping soothingly against her back as it was tussled by an unseen wind. She was unnaturally calm, for some reason she couldn't understand, yet her anxiety grow in a rising storm. Her dark red skirt flapped like the butterfly wings that were her heartbeat, and her fingers twitched next to her pale green blouse. Leaf Fuguri was not one to show fear, but anyone looking closely right now could see that she was afraid, knuckles turned white deathly and stomach roiling.
But unfortunately for her, she was surrounded. Millions of people had come to see the battle of the century, as they have dubbed it, between Red Yamaguchi and herself. Millions. Their cheers echoed in the large, elliptical stadium, and the tips of her delicate ears twinged to pink.
She glanced at him, loathe to meet his gaze lest she collapse out of fear, and studied him briefly. He had not changed much since they had last fought. His characteristic red baseball hat was still perched at an angle on his shocks of brown hair. He still stood tall, his shadow taller than hers, and his back was ramrod straight but slightly slouched at the same time. Leaf didn't even bother trying to understand how that worked. His red vest was still the same, as were his dark blue jeans, albeit both were frayed around the hems and looked like they had seen better days. But it was the intense, piercing look in his dark brown eyes that reminded Leaf of why they were there.
They were down to their last Pokémon, both rival and challenger. She was afraid, in this battle challenge for champion, that she might lose. The thought had not occurred to Leaf until that moment, when she realized how close their battle had become. And that cloud of fear settled in the pit of her stomach, growling and rumbling until it brewed into a thunder storm.
Leaf shook her head in frustration. She could not show fear. Not in front of all of these people, not in front of Red, and certainly not in front of her Pokémon.
It was Red’s job, as the defending champion, to send first. It didn’t really matter what he sent, though. They were both down to their last Pokémon, so Leaf really wouldn't be countering whatever he used. It was ironic, Leaf realized a few seconds too late. They had started this way, so long ago, with a simple one versus one. She had seen his lineup so far, managed to trek her way through all five of the incredibly well-trained Pokémon that sat on his belt, and she already knew with grim realization what dwelt within the last Pokéball on his hip. Just as he knew what lay within her own. It could only be these two.
The Elite Four had been difficult. Despite everything they had trained for, all of their work, Leaf's team had been in shambles by the time they had reached Red. She was amazed that they had gotten this far as it was. She knew, though, that she would still be proud of her team no matter what happened. Win or lose, victory or defeat, they had already done so much for her to get there. She would have no regrets if their challenge ended here.
However, she realized as her hands clenched into determined fists, that wouldn't stop her from trying. Leaf grimly leveled her cool, sapphire blue gaze with Red's and nodded curtly to him. She was ready.
Red’s face was unreadable, as it always was, when he threw the Pokéball to the ground. No flourish, no battle cry. Just a simple toss into the air, and the spiraling red and white sphere did the rest. There was a brilliant white flash and the gargantuan, orange creature emerged, its green-membraned wings flaring open as it landed on the ground with a thud. Its teeth and claws were wickedly sharp, and the open flame on its tail glowed dangerously hot, vaporizing the air around it into liquid-clear steam. Its lethal maw danced with fire, and its lean arms were scaly but muscular. Like Red, it cast a tall shadow. It landed with a full thud on the ground, its thick leg muscles flexing as its feet dug into the cracked ground, and those emerald wings flared open again once it had fully materialized. Red’s Charizard took the battlefield with a roar, a plume of white-hot fire erupting from its maw.
The crowd went nuts.
The maelstrom of fear in Leaf’s stomach intensified, even though she had known that this was coming since the beginning. It would not be a battle with Red without his Charizard, his starter, of course.
Just like it would not be a battle with Leaf without her own…
The Pokéball was in her hand and in the air in an instant, almost without her noticing. Unlike most trainers, she kept her Pokéballs in a silvery bag at her waist. Her fingertips could recognize each member of her party anyways. She didn’t make a flourish or a shout of encouragement, either, as the Pokéball rose in the air. Her sapphire eyes were locked firmly on Red’s brown ones, daring him to look for weakness in her pupils. He could find none, and he looked away to see what she had sent out, as was custom. They both knew, though, that Red already guessed her final hope.
The empty Pokéball in Leaf’s hand was worn with use, the red paint at the top beginning to peel in the slightest and the hinges slightly creaky from so much time. Yet anyone with eyes could see the immense care that Leaf gave this Pokéball, down to the faint, rose-scented polish that she rubbed on the cool metal nightly to keep it shining.
But that was nothing compared to the care she lavished on its occupant. A massive, titanic, dinosaur-like creature emerged in a characteristic flash of white. The pale pink flower formed from the light, six petals opening up in the sun, the spots on its surface glistening. It was just as large as Charizard, although it had much more bulk. Its four dark-green limbs made dull thuds on the ground, the smaller, pale-green triangle patterns on its body becoming visible as the light faded. Its dark brown eyes met Charizard's beady black ones in an instant, but the brown eyes remained impassive. The creature opened its mouth, revealing not pointed canines but rounded molars, but it did not seem intimidated by the daunting opponents in front of it, no matter how short its shadow was. It was not fazed by the flaming dragon in front of it, and snorted as if this fight meant nothing, although they both knew it was so much more than that. Almost nothing fazed it, now. Like Leaf, it was battle-hardened and an expert at hiding its own fear. It opened with a roar, primordial and ancient, its own personal battle cry.
...Venusaur. He was Leaf's one and only starter.
Upon seeing the blazing dragon facing the grassy dinosaur, Red's eyebrows rose and then fell into a frown of concentration. He was not prepared to lose at this stage, when the odds were so close in his favor. He smiled grimly at Leaf. Their rivalry had been long in the making.
Leaf knew that their rivalry would also end then and there, although she did not know why.
As was tradition, and out of courtesy to the challenger, Red allowed her to have the first move.
Leaf didn’t waste it. “Frenzy Plant,” she said quietly, her gaze coolly fixed on the massive opponents before them.
Leaf stands quietly in front of the door to Viridian Gym. The door is boarded up and the place has been closed since Giovanni fled, but neither the rotten wood slats or lack of a leader can stop the memories that plague her mind.
Venusaur had descended on this gym in a righteous fury once he had discovered the identity of the leader. The grass Pokémon was normally so peaceful and gentle, but he had whipped himself into a frenzy when he discovered that the Giovanni before him had been one and the same with the Giovanni of Team Rocket, responsible for the death of so many Pokémon.
It had been there, Leaf realizes, that Venusaur had unlocked his final, most powerful attack. The vines, ancient and archaic, had erupted from the ground, shattering the tiles and thrashing through the air with all of the uncontrollable force of the forest. Giovanni himself, for all of his boasts, had been unable to withstand the power of Frenzy Plant.
Every day, still, she tells Venusaur how proud she is of him for that.
Leaf smiles at the memory before it fades, fingering the pouch at her belt wistfully.
How much she wants to turn back the clock, to be young again...
Venusaur obliged with a proud roar, as if enjoying this show of power. Leaf knew that he actually was-- he always fought to prove himself to her, even though she thought has was more than enough already. He reared up on his hind legs with surprising agility for such a large creature, and stomped them into the earth. Network of fissures spiderwebbed out from where his clawed feet had gouged into the dry ground, and wispy clouds of dust puffed into the air. For a moment, the arena was still and silent.
The roots and the plants rushed to fulfill his command. Out of the earth, with the primal beauty that a forest possesses, great, whipping roots emerged, disrupting the earth as they raced towards the Charizard. They punched themselves out of the earth, gouging great cracks in the rocky surface. The roots were mottled and thorny, stray vines ripping up from the main ones, and chunks of rock and stone flew into the air as the roots forced their ways up from deep within.
“Fly,” Red said calmly. The hat on his head hid his dark brown eyes from view, but he was afraid at the power before him. However, he wasn't the Champion for no reason. He could react, adapt. And so could his Pokémon.
Charizard hurried to obey, both in part due to its loyalty and the massive tangle of newly grown forest surging towards it. With a roar, it leapt into the azure, cloudless skies, great wings snapping open as it caught itself in the air. It flexed its scaly arms experimentally, its dark-green wings buffeting the skies and sending jets of dusty wind around the arena. The great dragon roared in satisfaction as it watched the great roots writhe harmlessly beneath it for a few more seconds. Still careful to keep itself airborne, Charizard watched impassively as the thorn roots retracted back into the earth.
Leaf bit her lip in dismay. She hadn’t expected the plan to work, but she was already unnerved that their most powerful technique had been neutralized in an instant.
“Solar Beam,” she said quietly, involving her head to Venusaur.
Venusaur nodded intently, the last of the thorny roots snaking back into the gouged earth. He leaned forwards slightly, pointing his massive flower towards Charizard, towards the sky, towards the sun, and began concentrating. Tiny particles of sunlight snaked into the center of the bulb, and he closed his eyes, concentrating.
“Hit him from the sky and then use Flamethrower,” Red murmured to his own hovering Pokémon.
It was a lie, Leaf thought wryly, that Red never spoke. He did say things occasionally, although they were more often than not commands that made a trainer’s heart go cold. Like now.
They both knew that Venusaur was neither a fan of fire nor air, and also that Charizard was proficient in both.
A massive beam of solar energy rocketed out from Venusaur’s flower, the leaves on his back shifting with sighs as the energy whooshed out with a roar. The waves of golden-yellow light rippled through the air at frequencies too fast for the human eye to pick out, but Venusaur could see them. He was dismayed, however, to see how little his opponent was fazed by his attack. The orange dragon lowered its head behind scaly orange arms, pausing only for a moment as it struggled against the solar energy.
Then Charizard roared fiercely, flying straight through the blinding beam of light, claws outstretched, and pounced on Venusaur, hard, using the momentum from its dive to its advantage. The great grass giant bellowed in pain, and the crowd went nuts again.
A slightly battered Charizard quickly flipped out of the way, hovering a few feet backwards. His maw opened, showing the snaking pink tongue and pointed teeth, and prepared to unleash a jet of fire.
Leaf could see the liquid sprays of heat forming in his maw. Venusaur hated fire.
Cinnabar Island is here. He did not like it here—the volcano’s fire always made him uneasy. He hated fire. He was a creature of the earth. When they had challenged Blaine at their battle over the volcano, it had felt like he was burning slowly in hell.
He was willing to risk that much and more for Leaf, though. And they had won. He still hated fire after that, but he learned. He adapted. He hid his fears for her, swallowed them. He would do anything so that her dreams would come true.
But she knows he will not mind. He loves the sea, too, how the mists are free and ever changing, and the islands offer the perfect cliff view.
Leaf smiles slightly, holding the drawstring bag in her hand.
“Vine Whip,” Leaf shouted, her voice rising in panic. “Cut off the fire supply.”
She hurriedly thanked every deity that she knew that Venusaur understood. He shifted his weight with surprising speed for a creature of his bulk, and two smooth vines emerged from beneath the flower on his back, wrapping around Charizard’s neck and squeezing tightly.
Charizard’s eyes widened in surprise and it gagged for a moment, pausing. It opened its mouth and closed it in confusion, wondering where the fire had gone, and then realized that it was having difficulty breathing. But still the fire hissed ominously.
Venusaur roared, and then a flurry of vines emerged from beneath his flower, in a storm of thrashing green growth that wrapped around the Charizard like a single, pulsing noose, tightening and constricting. The fire puttered out weakly, and Leaf knew that Red must have noticed how desperate they were to produce such a quantity of vines so quickly. She couldn't keep it up forever.
“Dragon Claw,” Red growled, frustrated. They both knew that if he got a single, solid, fiery hit on Venusaur, the battle would be over. “Cut the vines.”
Charizard, although gasping for breath, raised its claws into the air, their surfaces dancing with a strange fire. It wasn’t true fire, the kind that Venusaur feared, but it was stranger, more draconic. Weakly, Charizard slashed at the vines around its neck, the flames biting at the fresh growth.
Venusaur bellowed in pain, but he did not dare back down, even as several of his vines charred through and snapped off with resounding twangs. Leaf had not told him to. He glanced back at her with earnest brown eyes, silently telling her that he would do whatever it took. To the death.
Leaf didn’t want that. “Take back the Vine Whip,” she said quietly, knowing that she had played right into Red’s hands.
Fuschia, home of the poison-types, had shown them how Venusaur could fight with more versatility. Koga had helped them on that, showing Leaf that they didn't need speed but dexterity and cunning. And maybe some power. They had learned a lot from the shadowed gym.
Venusaur had loved the strange architecture of the place, and he had especially enjoyed feeling his way around the glass walls in the gym with his vines, after running face-first into the first ones. He had been more cautious after that, carefully probing while Leaf had stumbled blindly in the dark.
They had both been pleasantly surprised when Koga had complemented Leaf on her raising of Venusaur.
She smiles for a moment, wondering if the flicker in the corner of her eyes is the ninja Koga, and then looks away, watching the dusty particles scatter in the winds.
Red’s eyes glimmered as Charizard took a few rattling breaths and the light returned into its eyes. “Fire Blast,” he muttered to his Charizard. Of course his plan had succeeded. Even if Venusaur hadn't backed down, the vines would've still burned.
The great dragon reared back its head again, taking in the blessed oxygen and preparing to release another, more powerful blast of fire.
“Protect!” Leaf’s voice had become increasingly desperate, she realized. She could show no fear, she reminded herself. For herself, for Venusaur.
The green and yellow shield shimmered for a heart-wrenching moment, and Leaf was afraid that they were too slow as the red and orange conflagration swirled around the spot that Venusaur had occupied, five arms of fire reaching all around him, ready to burn and destroy.
She was relieved to see, though, that Venusaur was mostly unharmed when the fire faded off and Charizard sagged backwards, sides heaving. Venusaur breathed heavily, however, as his green shield flickered away after the last of the dreaded fires had burned themselves out. But he was okay.
Leaf smiles at the entrance to Saffron Gym. The teleporters had made him dizzy at first, and he had been tentative to enter them after he had entered one and been sent spinning.
And then, once he had understood how they worked, he would charge headlong into them, a joyful glint in his eyes that almost made her think that he was just a Bulbasaur, and not a fully grown guardian of the earth.
Sabrina inclines her dark-haired head in curt greeting as she watches Leaf stand there quietly, head bowed. Perhaps, Leaf realizes, the psychic gym leader understands. Leaf thinks she does, because she watches out of the corner of her eye as Sabrina also bows her head in silence and respect before walking away wordlessly.
Red scowled, apparently not expecting a trick like that. They had been full of surprises as of late. But he still wasn't the Champion for nothing. “Slash,” he called out to his Charizard. “Get in close.”
“Double-edge!” Leaf ordered Venusaur. Her original fear had faded, but she knew it was only a matter of time before Venusaur became too worn out to use Protect any more. And then they would be easy pickings for a few fire attacks. The fight had to end soon or else it would not end in their favor.
Charizard swooped down, its wingtips flaring open as it landed only a few feet away from its opponent, claws gleaming white and razor-sharp. It drew back an orange, scaly fist, the claws glistening in the brilliant sunlight.
Venusaur was slower to respond, but he began running forwards on his stubby legs, clouds of dust swirling around him as he ran. White light trailed around him, marking his progress as he steam-rollered his way across the dusty arena towards his opponent.
Leaf paused, reminded of another time, once upon a time, when an orange dragon with a tail of fire and a green, quadrupedal dinosaur with a plant growing on his back had been locked in battle. She blinked owlishly.
It was the same Charizard and the same Venusaur, although their moves and appearances were much more different in this real situation than that first one. In that battle, they had simply tackled and scratched at one another until one of them had accepted defeat.
But as Leaf looked back at the battle happening before her, she knew there wasn’t much that was different.
The two Pokémon collided with bone crunching cracks. Charizard reacted first, raking its massive claws across Venusaur’s leafy flank, hissing in triumph. Shredded leaves and petals peeled off and fluttered weakly to the ground, limp. Charizard's victory quickly faded to alarm as Venusaur continued barreling through it, cloaked in blazing white light, grimly and doggedly ignoring the pain that the dragon’s claws brought.
The Charizard stumbled back, its mouth opened in a picturesque growl of surprise as it flew into the air and slammed with a dull thud into the back wall of the arena. A matrix of cracks opened up in the crater in the concrete, and the Charizard roared in agony as it slid downwards with a crunching thud. Venusaur skidded away, panting, hissing in pain at the raking cuts on his side. He had won that exchange, though. Pleased, he looked to Leaf for guidance.
He had gotten in touch with his roots at Celadon, both literally and figuratively. It had been here that he had evolved into his final form, a Venusaur, and she had made him smile by commenting on how the smell from the newly grown massive flower on his back was sweeter than any perfume they could make in the little shop to the left of the gym.
It had been here, under the kind instruction of Ericka, that he had learned to plunge his roots into the earth and absorb the nutrients of the ground to make him stronger.
She scatters a bit of the black stuff in the winds here, too.
Homage to the ones who taught them so much.
Venusaur looked bruised and battered. His leaves drooped, and there were great gouges on the petals on his back, shreds of the fragrant pink petal fluttering away in the wind. Leaf bit her lip in worry, hating to see him hurt like this.
“Ingrain,” she called out quietly to him, wanting to heal his pain.
She knew the move was a double-edged sword, in that it would limit his mobility but also allow him to obtain strength from strong roots in the earth. They had learned that. In a battle against something like Charizard, though, speed was never a factor for Venusaur. The grass-dinosaur would not have a chance of moving much faster than the fire-lizard, so there was really very little to lose. Besides, it wasn't Venusaur's style to run around like some Rapidash. He would sit tight, tanking the heavy beatings and then gladly returning the favors.
Venusaur nodded and gratefully plunged his feet into the earth, great woody roots snaking out from beneath his flower and sinking into the ground. His eyes brightened with the fire of the battle as the nutrients pumped themselves through the earth and into his body, soothing his wounds.
“Toxic!” Red retorted, his face contorting into a frown as he watched his efforts go to waste. It was his instinctive reaction to whenever he saw a challenger attempt to stall him, but he saw his problem in an instant.
Leaf wanted to cheer. Finally, here was a mistake. Here was something she could use to her advantage, a way that she could win the battle.
Leaf stands in the Underground path. Like Cinnabar Island, Venusaur despises this place. To be underground for do long, away from the glorious sunlight that gives him strength... Venusaur hates being beneath the earth.
They had been stopped by hikers here, the heavy rings on their fingers glinting and their massive, dense bodies casting huge shadows as they approached the young girl and her Ivysaur. Leaf smiles as she remembers how she and Ivysaur had frantically run acres the rainbow tiles from the bikers, deathly afraid that the two of them were under attack and the end would be coming. They had finally stopped, panting for breath and full of their tales on how they had cheated thugs out of their victims.
How were either of them supposed to know that the "thugs" had only wanted to give her a bike in exchange for her coupuon?
She smiles at these same bikers now, wondering if they recognize her from so long ago. Her fingertips, stained a dusty grey, thrum on the sheen of her drawstring pouch.
Red must have seen it, too, because his mouth was already open. It was too late, though. Charizard roared its agreement, steamrollering over any corrections that Red might have tried to make, and reared its serpentine head back. It only paused for a moment and then released a copious amount of thick, purple sludge from its mouth, spewing the poison towards Venusaur. The grass-type staggered back as the poison stung at its leaves with a series of splattery hisses, but he was otherwise unscathed. The rest of the poison fizzled an sunk harmlessly into the ground, splotches of purple sinking in to brown dirt.
Venusaur would not be harmed by the poison—as Koga had shown him, such toxins ran in his veins. Leaf knew this. Now to use it to her advantage.
“Sludge Bomb!” she shouted. “Use the poison from the Toxic in the ground to give you a boost!”
The rest of the purple toxins sank harmlessly into the earth, hissing and belching out poisonous-looking clouds of violent indigo vapors. Venusaur’s ingrained roots shied back, but they, too, did not seem harmed, and sucked the poison in copiously, as if through straws.
Venusaur paused for a moment, tightening his focus, and then opened his mouth, shifting his weight forwards and revealing his own yawning maw, filled with dark globs of poison. Just as fire formed in Charizard’s maw, poison blossomed in Venusaur’s, the thick kind that leaves lasting, acidic wounds.
The purple glob of poisonous sludge that Venusaur spewed from its mouth with a desperate roar was far, far more potent than Charizard’s. Venusaur was a creature of poison; he knew the ways of the toxins well enough to master them. In his eyes, the Charizard was not a natural poison-type but an imposter, and nothing more.
Charizard growled in what almost sounded like annoyance and flung a green-membraned wing over its face, trying to protect its eyes and nose from the acid’s bite. It hissed in pain, though, as the poison bit at its wings, leaving mottled patches of splotchy pink that were quickly darkening to an angry red. No matter. It had faced much worse, and while it was becoming increasingly harder to remain fighting, Charizard would do everything it could for Red to win this battle. Determined but weary, it looked to Red for further instructions.
Red was quick to give them. “Overheat,” he muttered. “Finish it off.”
The Charizard nodded, its eyes lighting to life, and it flung its wing back apart with a roar. For a moment, it took the barrage of poison head on, and then the fires crackled to life in its open maw. The poison evaporated into clouds of spiraling purple smoke from the intense heat, and the jet of fire around it erupted from its throat. Charizard's entire body quivered as its core temperature skyrocketed, until it finally released its peaked flames in a monstrous red and yellow inferno.
Distracted as he was by the incoming roaring flames, Leaf knew that Venusaur would not be able to react in time. It didn’t stop her, though, from crying out, “Protect, quickly!” with a voice that could have only been born in desperation. She flinched back, but she could not abandon him by looking away now. Her horrified gaze was riveted upon her ailing Pokémon.
Venusaur tried to react, but he was too slow. The red, swirling conflagration warped around him, the air shimmering in the heat, and then the fire hit. Unable to stop it, he bellowed in pain. The cry was feral and unrestrained, pure anguish transferred into sound that echoed around the field.
The crowd was deathly silent now, a million pairs of eyes fixed upon the inferno swirling in the center.
Leaf bit her lip and struggled not to turn away. It was only for Venusaur's sake, now, that she didn't just give up altogether. She would never abandon him.
It was here, in Pokémon Tower, that he had for once shown his primal rage. Their battles against the ghosts had cost her team dearly, and in the end, it was only Leaf and her Ivysaur against the hordes of spirits that became a lost mother that became the sneering faces of Team Rocket.
Ivysaur had become enraged when he had realized that these men in black and red had been responsible for the deaths of so many. He fought as many as he could, so valiantly, but there were too many. He had sagged to the ground, bruised and battered, only able to watch helplessly as the Rocket Grunts approached Leaf with malicious smiles.
Ivysaur's angered roars halted them in their tracks, ten feet away from her, and shook the haunted tower to its core. The weakened Pokémonstruggled to regain his footing, but when he finally had, he was an entirely different creature. His body had been cloaked in a strange green aura, and he had, enraged, roared his challenge to them, his eyes murderous and gleaming a fierce golden-green.
There wasn't much of a fight after that.
For the first time, Leaf had been afraid for her friend. Even after the murderers had been defeated, he refused to calm down, his eyes wild. In tears, Leaf had wrapped her arms around him, singing his favorite songs in his pointed ears and rocking him back and forth, ignoring the thorny vines that sprouted from beneath his bulb to swat angrily at her. He was like an entirely different creature, oblivious to her. For once, she had been so afraid that she had lost him in his own madness, afraid he no longer knew who she was.
But he had finally come back to her, the light fading as he sagged in her arms and the thorned vines sank limply to the ground.
She had nearly cried with relief when he calmed down, and they sat there together in silence for a while.
Leaf gravely inclines her head for the souls lost. The silvery pouch at her side is diminished, but she knows there us still enough. The ghosts will help them now.
Leaf closed her eyes. It was over.
But the roar in her ears was certainly familiar. She looked up, frowning. Venusaur shouldn’t have been able to survive that. The fire had hit him head on, and they had never been able to stand in the face of a conflagration such as that one.
But the smoke cleared, revealing a badly burned and battered, but very much conscious, Venusaur. His body roiled with a strange, green aura, and his eyes were not the same. There was something snapped in him, something feral.
Leaf was familiar with Overgrow. She would have been a poor trainer of her Venusaur if she did not know it. The power of such an ability, and the sheer, uncontrollable rage it unlocked in its wielder, never ceased to strike fear in her heart.
She could see the surprise on Red’s face, though, the open shock and the way his normally emotionless face was flooded with dumbfounded amazement. It made her proud.
She wasn’t going to waste her chance. Venusaur was battered and beaten, but by no means broken. “Frenzy Plant!” she shouted out, fear still in her voice. Although Venusaur would never admit it, he was still very weak in this stage. She would still have to play her hand extremely carefully, or else she might end up worse off than before.
For a heart-wrenching moment, Venusaur did not move. He stood there, staring blankly, his eyes not his own. Then, he slowly turned and focused on Charizard, the enemy, and something seemed to snap into place in his mind. His eyes gleamed in concentration, their pupils dancing with green fire, and he lurched to do Leaf's bidding. With painstaking slowness, he leaned forwards, as if in a dream. Leaf bit her lip.
And then, forcing himself to continue, Venusaur reared backwards and then plunged his feet into the earth. The gouges formed, the crater expanded, and the roiling clouds of dust flew into the air. There was silence, and Leaf feared for an instant that they had been too slow. The plants rushed once more to fulfill his command.
Vermillion is quiet, by the seas and calm. Although he had loved water, he had hated the S.S. Anne. The ever-rocking boat made him queasy, and he was so afraid that Leaf would slip accidentally through one of the deck's guardrails and he would lose her forever.
He was so glad to return to solid ground.
Standing at the dock, Leaf notices that the ship has yet to return. Perhaps, she thinks, it is like he is—little by little, scattered to the winds, a memory to never return.
She sighs quietly, turning away. The silver pouch jostles by her hip, its drawstrings fluttering in the wind.
The wall of plans, writhing and grassy, glowed with the same green aura of Overgrow. Red’s eyes widened in shock, and his mouth was half open to shout out a counterattack, but then he closed it, bowing his head in defeat. “Flamethrower,” he whispered, although the look in his eyes said that he only kept fighting for the sake of Charizard. Like Leaf, he would refuse to abandon his Pokémon, even when all hope seemed lost.
Like now. The admission was obvious in his eyes, even though his head was bowed. He knew his Charizard well.
Leaf was stunned. He had submitted, although the audience could not see it.
Charizard saw the change in its trainer, too, but its dignity kept it fighting for Red. It warily prepared the fire in his maw and tried to brace itself, but nothing at his current state could help it move faster than the wall of plants surging towards it. The earth quaked beneath the dragon’s feet and the roiling plans lashed at it from all sides, a forest in true frenzy. Charizard roared and tried to launch itself skyward, but the dome of flailing roots converged upon it, blocking out the sun in a mass of writhing green. The knotted and mottled roots obscured Charizard from view in a squirming net, and for a moment, there was only silence. Blasts of fire surged around the edge of the dome, illuminating it from within, but the plants did not burn this time.
The fire died out, its oxygen and its user vanishing, and then there was silence. Nothing moved, nothing stirred, and not even the wind was joyous enough to play with the dust around them. There was no sound from within the dome, although Venusaur's sides heaved with exhaustion.
Then the roots retreated, and Venusaur panted, hard. Leaf knew the end was near.
Across the field, Charizard still stood strong, the roots closest to it on fire from the slightly flickering flame on its tail.
Leaf's eyes widened in surprise when she noticed how low the fire on its tail had actually sunk. It was almost gone.
And, as if in slow motion, the great dragon bowed down to the earth, hitting the hard-packed dirt with a dull thud. Dust swirled in the air, but Charizard did not get up. Red lowered his head.
It was over.
They had won.
She remembers the ease with which he had demolished Cerulean Gym as she stands balefully by the glass double doors. It was hardly a fight: Misty's Staryu and Starmie were no match for him. As if he wasn't already given enough of the upper hand, he had discovered a pair of vines that he could release and retract from the base of his bulb. During the battle, he had used them to soundly thrash the living daylights out of Misty's poor Pokémon.
And after that, he had used them to gather some of the flowers planted outside of the gum and tuck them in Leaf's hair behind her ears, beaming. She told him that the soft pinks of the roses he had gathered were her favorite colors.
He had evolved, growling in frustration, in their battle against Red by the bridge, desperate to become stronger than his Charizard—then a Charmeleon. His tiny green bulb blossomed into a beautiful pink bud, and he had started to cast a larger shadow. His efforts had increased by tenfold; such was his desperation to win for her. He had been so close to succeeding that she can still taste the victory in her suddenly dry mouth.
He had been so sad to fail her.
She had managed to cheer him up by taking the roses out from their nestled alcoves behind her ear and comparing them to the newly grown bulb on his back, marveling at how similar and nice they both were. He thought he looked silly with a giant flower on his back, but her words changed that.
When they left Cerulean the next morning, both had small pink roses tucked behind their ears.
Leaf shakes her head in amazement. She is no botanist, and she never was, but at least she can now recognize rafflesia. She would be a poor Venusaur trainer if she couldn't...
The thought of it hurts, and she forces it out of her mind. She pauses for a moment, and then re-welcomes the memory with open arms. It would be of poor respect to their journey to forget the small things like flowers.
She scatters a bit here, too, knowing that this is a place she will visit often.
They had won. There was a moment of silence as the dust settled and Venusaur stood there balefully in front of Leaf, and then the cloud erupted into cheers.
Something, though, kept Leaf from looking triumphantly to the crowd and reveling in her victory. Some deeply ingrained instinct kept her eyes riveted in Venusaur. Somehow, she knew that there was a problem. She was shocked to see how awful he looked, his leaves drooping and his mouth panting, hard. His breathing was ragged, and faint tendrils of what looked like purple vapor came out of his nose whenever he snorted in pain--it was startlingly frequent--, weakly coughing up purple globs of sludge.
Leaf’s eyes went wide as she watched her friend stagger for a moment, eyes flickering, and then fall altogether.
He had fainted before. Only once, and she had been scared half to death and had nearly crushed the Nurse Joy in a tearful hug when he woke up, but he had fainted before. She had always recalled him and forfeited after that whenever he came on the verge of collapse. She was willing to lose a battle or two for him, especially since he was willing to give it his all for her dreams.
Leaf realized with guilt that she had been so caught up in this battle that she hadn't noticed or recalled him. She wondered guiltily to herself if she would have even sacrificed being the Champion if it made him faint after, had she known. But she shook the thought from her mind, breathing deep, shuddering breaths to calm herself. He had fainted before, she repeated to herself.
This was different, though. She didn’t know how she knew it, but she knew. Her vision swam and her hearing went fuzzy, tuning out the roar of the crowd. Somehow, she knew, this was worse.
She was screaming, not with joy but with horror, and the audience finally got the idea that something was horribly, horribly wrong.
The next few hours for her were a blur. The paramedics, their uniforms crisp, rushed onto the field, an oversized stretcher in their white-coated arms. She could hear the worry their voices as they carefully hoisted Venusaur’s gargantuan body onto the white cloth and rushed out, a blur of white and green and pink and purple, and red that looked sickeningly like blood.
Leaf’s body felt numb as she gawked for a painful moment and then rushed after them. She screamed, reaching for him, but the nurses quickly shoved her away. They had it under control, they promised firmly.
She shook her head in disbelief. They didn't know him like she did. They didn't understand how he hated small spaces like hospital rooms. How antiseptic made him queasy. How she had to sing his favorite song to him when he was afraid. How he had a ticklish spot right between his ears that needed to be scratched when he was scared.
No, they didn't know that. How could they? They didn't understand him at all, and then he would wake up, afraid and confused, and think that Leaf had left him. The she had betrayed their promise and allowed him to faint, and then she had left him. What would he think? Would he be afraid that he had been too weak for her, and that was why she had abandoned him? She would never do that, but the thoughts in his mind would have to be so confused...
She trailed after them, being stopped by comforting but cold hands at the swinging doors to the Emergency Room at the Pokecenter. She could only watch through the glass as they wheeled him out of sight.
She sat down numbly, her fingers white and shaking. She found herself crouching on the bench outside of those swinging doors, her arms wrapped around her legs as she rocked back and forth, singing his favorite song in the hope that he would hear her and know that she was still there for him.
Pewter is her almost her last stop, and maybe one of her most painful. It was here that their journey had truly started, when Venusaur—only then a mere Bulbasaur—had burst through the double doors of the gym and growled his challenge to Brock, the rock master.
It was here, on the outskirts of Viridian forest, that they had captured their first Pokémon. They had rejoiced together, cheering, and had nearly forgotten the red and white orb and its contents.
It was here that they had earned their first badge, where he had fought his hardest against the rocks and come out on top, fighting hard after their newest comrade, Caterpie, had fallen to the horrible Onix.
It was here that they had marveled at the fossils in the museum, and where he had decided he wanted to fly free like the massive Aerodactyl fossil on display.
...It was here that she had given him his special name, the one that only the two of them know.
Leaf’s face is unreadable as she fiddles with the drawstring of the pouch.
They emerged with grim faces, and he was not there.
She shook her head, paling as she took steps backwards. As if distance could separate her from the cold world of pointed reality.
The nurse had tried to break the news as gently to her as possible, but Leaf simply sat there, stony faced, feeling the guilt and regret lick away at her heart. The nurse tried to comfort her, wrapping an arm around the young girl and offering false words of condolences that could not possibly mean anything. Still, Leaf said nothing.
The nurse added in a quieter voice that he must have been such a fighter to keep going on like how he had. That he had remained conscious for a while, and had even tucked a scalpel gently behind one of the nurse's ears with a feeble vine, nesting it in her mousy brown hair.
Leaf's knuckles whitened, and she instinctively reached behind her own ear, as if expecting to find a pink rosebud there.
It was amazing, the nurse continued, that he had even been conscious for so long. Most creatures would have succumbed to the poison's bite hours before.
She knew that he would keep fighting. He was a fighter at heart, always ready to give it all. She had always suspected that he would die for her dreams if he had to, and now she knew it was true.
But a small, ingrained part of her heart was not shocked by the news. Only accepting. Like it had known he was dead to them the instant he collapsed on the field, and this was only the painful reminder.
It was only when the kind-faced nurse had given up trying to console her and left that Leaf began to cry. And when she did, she cried and cried, stumbling back to her rented room and locking the doors and simply screaming for days straight.
It was only when she no longer had the voice or the tears to cry that they told her how he had died.
It was a freak accident, they had described it. A one in a million chance. It had started with the poison, the one thing that shouldn’t have hurt him. But in burying his roots in the ground, in attempting to use the poison to boost his own attack, Venusaur had inadvertently absorbed the horrid toxins into his system, alongside the nutrients. The poisonous parts of his nature were unaffected by it, but the ingrained roots linked directly to his grassy heart.
It hadn’t lasted long, the nurse had said when trying to comfort her. Once the poison had reached his heart, had had been delirious and unfeeling within a few minutes. And it certainly hadn’t hurt.
Leaf still sat there, arms wrapped around her knees, and said nothing.
Things would get better, the nurse had told her.
She had finally turned, her eyes filled with cold fury, and replied that things would only get better when science could bring back the dead.
The nurse had left after that, unsure of what else there was to say.
Red had entered later on, an oval-shaped object in his arms. Leaf recognized the pale green pattern speckled with darker green triangles and turned away from the egg instantly, frowning. It repulsed her. She had ignored his kind words, about how he would have felt horrible if the same thing had happened to him, and how he had wheedled with the Professor for ages to get an egg like this one, and Leaf did not face him.
No hatchling would ever replace Venusaur, her one and only starter.
Red had tried to insist that she keep it, with kind, pleading words, until she had snapped. She threw the stupid Champion’s medal in his face, screaming, and shrieked at him to leave. If this was what being a Champion was like, she said, Red was perfectly welcome to it.
She knew then that if she had had the choice to re-do the battle with her knowledge in mind, she would have recalled Venusaur long before he had fainted. The thought did not combat her guilt, though.
He had retreated sheepishly, sheltering the egg protectively in his arms, and left her there alone.
For three more days, Leaf locked herself in her room near the arena and sat there. Staring. Thinking. Remembering.
Someone came back, and she pretended not to notice the intruder in her vigil facing the wall. She saw another egg-shaped mass in the newcomer's arms, and frostily wondered if that insane person also wanted a broken nose. She had hoped that Red would've spread the word to leave her alone, but...
She turned towards the figure, a random object that was a garish shade of orange snatched up in her head and aimed towards the fool who had interrupted her thoughts. Her temper, she realized belatedly, was on a much shorter fuse as if late.
The figure was gone, though. Left behind was only a rounded parcel on the unmade bed along with a note.
Leaf wanted to smash the thing at first. No hatchling could replace him. And besides, she never wanted to touch or see another Pokémon again. She had already sent the rest of her team back to Professor Oak with the request to take care of them in the likely event that she never thought of them again.
However, when she pulled the cloth off of the egg to reveal its starchy whiteness, tinged with tiny splotches of flame-like purple, her anger was replaced with confusion. She grudgingly put the Pokedex -- it truly was a garish shade if orange, although she doubted that it would've made a very good bludgeon, although it had been forgotten along with her Pokémon after that awful day-- cocked in her hand back on the table, and forced read the note and between the lines. About how this egg was imported from a region far, far away, with no chance of reminding her of any Pokémon she had seen before. About how she could still move on without disrespecting him. About how sometimes, things would have to be scattered. How wounds healed and even the worst of scars would fade away eventually.
Leaf waited until the sun had set, like the note had told her to, and then watched impassively as the egg hatched in a brilliant flash of light. When it had faded, she found herself facing what looked like a giant candle, one with a single yellow eye visible, purple flames, and stubby arms. Its feet melted into little puddles of wax on the wood of her desk, but it could still move, slightly. She eyed it with disgust. Venusaur hated fire. The thing smiled at her, though, and Leaf was confused.
She thought back, though, and she began to understand.
Leaf had taken it outside with her, shown the strange creature where to go and huskily told it what to do. It had hesitated for a moment, but something broken in her expression told it not to question her.
And so she stood there grimly, watching the purple fires lick at the grasses and roots with grudging ferocity. She held the slack silvery drawstring bag that once held her Pokéballs so tightly that her knuckles were white, and she tried not to shudder.
She stands beneath the grassy boughs of Viridian Forest, remembering. Of all the places they had visited on her journey, this one was likely his favorite. He loved the way the winds whistled in the trees and the leaves whispered beneath the gentle spring breeze. The bug-types would crowd around him, enraptures by the tantalizing scent wafting from the bulb on his back, and he would sit on a stump, discussing things intently with them in a language Leaf could not understand.
But today, the forest is empty. The wind in the branches is cold and unforgiving, but even nature seems to relent when Leaf walks in. She sees the stump near the entrance of the forest and closes her eyes. Maybe, if she tries hard enough, he will be waiting for her again, perched on the slowly rotting stump, as if time could reverse itself for her.
But when she opens her clenched eyelids and blinks away the mixture of white spots and tears, she knows he is still not there.
Regardless, she scatters some here, as well. Here, of all places, where he had protected her from the Weedle in her sleeping bag by enticing them away with berries...
Leaf vaguely registers a buzzing sound and looks up. She is met by the whirring, translucent wings of a lone Beedrill in the silent forest, its normally deadly stingers gently cradling a soft, heart-shaped berry the color of the darkening midday sky.
Leaf blinks back tears. A Lum Berry. It heals status ailments, as she remembers from the years that she left behind.
To cure poison.
She stares at the slightly squishy berry in her outstretched palm for a long time, even after the Beedrill stops staring at her sympathetically and flits away in a whit of gossamer. Leaf vaguely wonders if the Lum Berry will work on humans, too. But she doubts that it will help cure her broken heart, even if it did.
She sits on the stump for a long while, stony-faced, watching the fine layers of black dust whirl idly in the wind around her feet. She hefts the silver drawstring bag in her palm, biting her lips as she again looks around the quiet recesses of Viridian Forest.
A lone leaf escaped the inferno, dried and brown, and she clutched at it close to her heart. She turned away for just a moment, fingering the dried surface beneath her fingertips. She struggled not to cry.
But she would not cry. She would be strong for him, just like he had been strong for her. He would be happy, and maybe, just maybe, she would find happiness as well. Her thoughts were scattered as she stared into the flames, biting back the tears. Leaf knew there was no shame in crying as she gave up trying to hold the pain back and teardrops slipped down her pale cheeks. The pinpricks of liquid landed on the tiny blades of grass sprouting around her feet and puttered away with hisses in the fierce inferno of that strange fiery-candle. She knew she would release the hatchling as soon as she could, so it could find a better home than hers, where she would always be haunted by regret, but her disgust for it hadsubsided exponentially now that she had thought it over.
She fingered the leaf for a bit longer, her delicate fingers careful not to make the charred surface crumble any more. She could only scatter so much of herself away at a time, after all.
And then, just like that, she got up and left, her eyes hardened with resolve. She had a job to do.
She pauses for a moment outside of Oak’s Lab. It is here that they had met, a twist of fate when she hadn’t arrived in time to get a Pikachu, like the cool kids.
She had looked into the earnest eyes of the Bulbasaur, though, and decided that she didn’t mind.
It had been here that Red had challenged her to a battle, right there in the front yard, and their rivalry had started. She had been so afraid that Bulbasaur was dead when he had fainted…
She had nearly crushed that Nurse Joy in her relief, in that tearful hug... it all feels so long ago. When he had woken up, she had been so afraid he would hate her. He had been afraid, too, that he had failed her, and had cowered away when Leaf approached.
Then, the two of them had made a pact. A pact to never leave one another. He would fight to the end so that her dreams came true, and she would recall him before it happened. It was unspoken, but already their bond ran deeper than conscious thought. It was their pact, formed out of fear.
She remembers that fear with a pang, now, and then dips her hand into the pouch, biting back her tears.
Leaf opted not to bury Venusaur, much to the surprise of nearly everyone. Everyone except for Red, who mysteriously seemed to understand.
It wasn't a matter of money—she was the Champion, after all, albeit half-heartedly. She could have buried him in an ornate manner beneath a luxurious shrine, worthy of his deeds, in the rocky grounds by Cerulean Cave, where only a few privileged such as the Elite Four may tread.
She refused. He hated the underground. He hated being trapped in one place, with no where to maneuver. And the thought of his body, buried in a small box under so many feet of earth, where she could never see him, after so long… she just couldn’t do it. He needed the sun above him, to remind him how the world kept living.
To nearly everyone’s confusion, she had him cremated. Again, somehow, Red seemed to understand. And no one, not even Professor Oak, dared question his determination when he had barged into the lab and politely but forcefully demanded for a Litwick egg to be imported from Unova.
She knew that that was what Venusaur would have wanted. That way, he could rest in the earth but not be crushed by it, bringing new life wherever he found himself. His body would provide the roots of a new generation, allowing the scores of plants that he loved to grow and flourish. Each part of him, each little grain of ash, would help a new creature grow.
He was a free Pokémon, free as the open sky and the leaves that flit in the wind, and he would have wanted it this way.
She walked across Kanto, alone, just like they once did, just the two of them. This time, she was scattering.
Venusaur was as free as the grass roots in the ground. He never liked being in one place. And this way, wherever she may go, a little piece of him will always be there for her, rooted and ingrained in her heart.
Leaf makes her final stop at home, her heart twinging as she walks past her house. How long has it been since she has last visited? Three years? Four?
She walks purposefully behind her house, to the great oak tree in the backyard that has towered over her since she was a little girl and the world was four feet high, watching over her with its wise leaves. Venusaur always had a fixation on this tree, how its boughs swayed in the summer wind but never broke.
She pulls the silver bag from her belt, loosening the drawstring with a pang. Inside, it holds the last link to her first Pokémon. She slowly holds the nearly empty bag in her palm, staring blankly at the black, coarse ashes that used to be a living, breathing creature, who, once upon a time, tended to the earth like it was his own. Her vision blurs.
The backyard never had a fence. It opens up to a cliff face, overlooking the sea. The gentle ocean breeze plays with her brown hair, flapping it against her back, and yet she is amazingly calm for her situation. Her fears heighten again, though. She does not face an arena, but the prospect of what she is about to do is equally daunting.
She takes a deep breath. Leaf knows that here, after so long, it is time to let go.
Time will stop, eternity will pause, and death will halt on its inevitable course for just these few precious moments. For they are hers, and forever they will be, rooted in her heart.
She lifts the bag, filled with the ashes, and hesitates for only a moment—
It’s hard, letting go. They never really got to say good-bye.
--and then she scatters the remaining contents to the winds.
And at the base of the great oak tree, with its limbs spread wide to the sapphire skies, there will finally be peace for the gentle creature who fought so many. His Pokéball lies there now, although the paint on the red half will peel and the white half will grow dull, as all will rust with time and age and disuse. The scent of roses will never have faded whenever she returns-- which is often-- and never will. And inside of the sphere, instead of an occupant, there lies only a charred and crumbled leaf. Her last true link to her first Pokémon.
And every year, tiny pink rosebuds will sprout around the base of the tree. No one will know how they got there; such blossoms are native only to Cerulean City, but no one will have the heart to ask, either. They will all know in their heart of hearts. The tiny patch of petals will be well-tended, although no one ever will ever see by whom.
Leaf hates leaving him here like this.
But she knows that this was where he would have wanted his last link to the world to rest, a tiny red and white orb nestled between the gnarled roots of the oak tree that will be always, forever ingrained in her heart.