Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of me,Felix9. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Chapter Notes:
After their unexpected fight Felix is left in grave condition... Can a past foe become a new ally? Who would trust someone like that?
Chapter 11 - Getting By
It didn't take us long to reach the center after the Lucario confronted us, but Joy was still in the back room with Felix. The Chansey filling in at the front desk would not let us back to see him.
"You don't understand! He's our trainer! He's my mate!" I argued franticly with the egg pokemon. While my admission caught her off guard she still politely refused, and urged us to sit and wait. My tail twitched with a nervous anxiety and a deep frustration. I stared at her with Leo still clutching my chest fur, trying to think of something more to say. The Chansey stared back with a determined but sympathetic look. In the end I could only give a frustrated huff as Lady and I turned towards the chairs.
We hadn't even taken two steps from the desk before Ky suddenly collapsed to the floor, panting raggedly. I knelt beside him as he whined and tried to push himself back to his feet. I couldn't help but feel horrible, we had been so worried about Felix none of us had noticed the Umbreon's own grave injuries. Lady whined and licked gently at his muzzle, begging him not to shut his eyes as he collapsed back to the floor. Setting Leo down, I gently stroked his side but stopped before I got to his softly glowing ring. He had several bleeding wounds beneath his fur. The black had hidden their severity until it had finally overcome him. His drowsy eyes looked to me as he whined softly for us not to worry about him. My eyes welled with tears as Felix's smiling face flashed in my thoughts. He would have said the same thing... ignoring his pain to spare us our own.
A moment later there were two Chansey beside us with a rolling stretcher. Urgently they pushed Lady and I out of the way and lifted Ky onto the bed. He yelped and whined as they touched him but seemed more comfortable as the nurse pokemon wheeled him quickly towards the back. Lady scrambled to stay with him, as did I, but one of the Chansey scolded us and shut the door in our faces.
"Wait! You can't!" I growled as Lady slammed her shoulder into the door with a feral snarl. It was too late though, the door had been locked this time. I stared at the door, that beige color making my eyes burn the longer I watched. There were no windows so we couldn't look in. There was no way to know if either Felix or Ky would be okay. My mind raced. I blamed myself for not using one of Felix's medicines on Ky. He hadn't seemed terribly hurt until we got here but he had to have been in pain running all that way. Why hadn't he said anything?
As the knot in my stomach grew I set my jaw and sniffed, fighting the urge to cry. Leo's paw on my leg snapped me from my reverie though, bringing my gaze to meet his worried expression. "It'll be okay," I said unconvincingly, kneeling and bringing a paw to stroke the back of his head.
I still couldn't stop the tears from wetting the fur at the corners of my eyes and I could see Leo's eyes waver as well. My heart ached but at least I had one comfort... Gently I picked up my little boy and went to the nearby chairs. I set Felix's backpack beside me as I squeezed Leo in a tight hug. Both of us simply started to cry as we cuddled, giving each other the only comfort we could. It wasn't long before Lady joined us. She too whined and sniffled, crying as she leaned against me until I put an arm about her to hold her close as well...
I sat there stunned for a moment as the Lucario and her friends ran off. My head throbbed but luckily the blow from my collar's controller had barely broken the skin. Even through my aching head my thoughts raced. What should I do now? Why had they simply let me go after all that? I saw the horror in the Lucario female's eyes when she saw my stained fur. She would never be able to look at me again if I went after them, would she?
As I sat there a story played over in my head. When I was a pup my mother had told me of strong Lucario who could see life itself. They were ancient and elite, masters of a forgotten art unique to our species. That female... had tracked me with her eyes shut. I knew there was only one way she could have done it. She was one of them.
Guilt panged my heart once again as I groaned and stood. My legs and feet still ached. My eyes lingered on the remote the Ninetales had thrown. Without knowing how it worked except for that button I couldn't get this collar off. Then again, did I deserve to be rid of it? My mother had always told me to revere those special Lucario, to train hard and reflect so that perhaps we might rediscover our lost heritage. Instead, I had followed countless orders to hurt others, including one to kill someone who was like royalty to my own kind. I realized that part of me had hoped she or the Ninetales would have activated my collar. If nothing else, it would have relieved some of my guilt.
My eyes drifted to the trail that led back to that horrid Darkrai human. He hadn't been the only human I had obeyed, just the latest. I could return there but what was the point? If I refused to fight any longer he would just kill me. No... It was better someone get something more than a sick pleasure from my torture. Even if that Lucario and Ninetales wouldn't pass judgement perhaps... someone else would. With a soft sigh of resignation I picked up the controller and started back towards town. Even if I was turned away, I knew what I had to do.
The next thing I remember was waking up still seated in the pokemon center chair. Leo was resting in my arms and Lady had gotten to the floor and curled into a tight ball of tails. Someone had put a blanket over my legs and given Leo just enough to cover himself in his sleep. As I looked around my gaze met with Joy behind the counter. She quickly came from the desk before I had a chance to move and disturb Leo.
"Felix! The human who was hurt. Is he?" I hastened to ask, my voice a little louder than I intended.
"Shhh. It's okay. I know," she interrupted and knelt so I didn't have to get up. "He's stable now. I've called his family. They said they would come to get you tomorrow," she said in an effort to comfort me but it hardly worked. I could feel my eyes welling with tears once again. What did she mean by "He's stable?" "Your friend did the right thing bringing him here. He'll be okay now," she continued, seeing my distress building.
"I want to see him," I demanded weakly. I could feel my heart burn as she called that other Lucario my friend, but he was gone and it didn't matter. However, as Joy's expression shifted to one of concern I could almost feel Felix slipping away once more.
"I don't know if that's..." she started.
"Please! I have to!" I begged as I leaned forward. Leo stirred in my lap and Lady started to uncurl as well. I flinched as the motion reminded me of the others' presence. I looked down as Leo opened his tired eyes then back to Joy as I remembered we were missing someone else. "What about Ky? The Umbreon?" I asked quickly. "Is he all right?"
"He'll be fine, they're both resting. You should get some sleep too. I'll get you three a room," Joy replied, laying a hand on Leo's head to rub him softly.
"No! I want to see Felix. Please," I begged again. Joy gave a concerned look to Leo and then to Lady. Once more she was reluctant to speak.
"Alright, but let's see your Umbreon friend first," she conceded, and I couldn't stop my tail from twitching anxiously. I set Leo down and held his paw after picking up Felix's bag. Lady walked on the other side of the nurse as she took us to the previously barred doors.
To my surprise Felix wasn't just beyond the first set of doors. Another ten feet down the hall there were doors with windows that led to a large room. To the right there was a hallway with several more doors. Without faltering, Joy took us through a set of doors to the left, which led to another large room that lay behind the wall of her desk area. Several pokemon lay on stretchers, resting, and among them was Ky. Seeing him, Lady hurried over and leapt to a chair next to his bed. With a whine she sniffed at him as we joined her. I set Leo down as Joy started to offer an explanation of his condition. From what little I actually heard it sounded good.
A brief moment after I had set Leo down a Chansey touched my arm. Silently she waved the stubby appendage, gesturing for me to follow her. I was about to grab Leo when she tugged at my paw without a sound. Confused I looked back as I took a step away. Joy caught my eye as she talked but looked back to Ky. Her hand, hidden from Leo and Lady, motioned me to go.
Confused and scared I followed the Chansey as she led me quickly from the room and down the other hall. There, she opened a door and hurried me in. I nearly stumbled as I entered just before the Chansey closed and locked the door. Inside the room smelled sterile. Cleaner and disinfectant I'd smelled Joy use before flooded my nose but there was a slight waft of a familiar scent... Felix.
My ears perked towards a sound from behind a curtain. The rush of air, and the steady beep from a machine. "Joy didn't want you to see him like this but you insisted. You can touch his hand but nothing else!" the Chansey scolded sternly, rather comically waving her stubby arm at me. I nodded; still confused as to what it all meant until the pink pokemon pulled back the curtain.
My eyes widened as I drew a sharp breath. My insides felt like they'd tied themselves in knots! The Chansey blew a quick safeguard over my mate before she stepped aside; letting me see the damage he'd taken...
Another rush of air made my ear twitch as my eyes flicked from one thing to the next. Felix lay unconscious and unmoving on the bed. His clothes had been removed and a blanket covered his legs and waist. Above that, his chest and stomach area were wrapped in bandages that reeked of some kind of medicine. His head lay on a pillow, but a bunch of white tubes were taped to his mouth and nose! I started to feel sick. What had they done to him?
Again a rush of air came from the machines next to his bed. Felix's chest rose softly as air was pumped into him. Next to that machine was one beeping and showing a green spiked line. Finally a clear bag dripped into yet another tube, this one attached to my mate's left arm. Terrified, I took an unsteady step forward and reached a paw out. I touched Felix's hand and quickly pulled back as the machine gave another breath. When he made no move I took his hand tightly in my paws. His touch was warm, and though limp at first, his fingers weekly clutched at my paw a moment later. I sniffled through an unrestrained giggle, remembering how he would let his arm hang limp when I played with it as a Riolu.
Tears quickly began to overflow from my eyes as I held his hand against my chest and simply stared up at his half obscured face. My only consolation as I watched my mate lying broken in the bed was I could still feel his aura. It burned warmly as I stood there, then seemed to change. My breath caught as he radiated a comforting glow directed at me. My heart nearly broke as I stared, my vision blurred by the tears streaming from my eyes. Even like this... he was trying to comfort me, and there was absolutely nothing I could do in return.
"Okay, let's get back to the others," the Chansey said gently, her hard tone from before softened with sympathy after seeing my tears. I swallowed hard and clenched Felix's hand tightly once more before giving his fingers a soft kiss. Setting his hand carefully back on the bed I hurried to follow the Chansey. Wiping tears from my eyes I took one last look at Felix before the door closed behind me. I held the consoling warmth of his aura in my mind and tried imagining my mate telling me not to worry, that he would be better soon, but without actually seeing his smile just wasn't convincing.
As I came back to the room where Ky lay, Leo worriedly rushed to my feet. Questions flew from his lips faster than I could even hear as he seemed distraught I would leave him. He was a smart pup though, he knew very well I had gone to see his dad and he wanted to see Felix as well. I knew Joy had made a concession for me and I knew Leo would be terrified seeing Felix how he was. "Shhh. He's sleeping right now. Joy doesn't want us to wake him up," I said in a half lie. It hardly seemed to placate my sniffling pup but he almost never argued. I knew he needed more than words though so I picked him up to hug him tightly as I walked back to see how Ky was. Between Lady, Leo and Joy talking over him he had woken up, though he was clearly still dazed from a sedative Joy must have given him.
My mind raced as I slowly started to wake. It felt like I was riding in the family car down another one of Dad's "shortcuts." As my eyes fluttered open I realized that was exactly what was happening. Confused, I looked around. Luca sat to my right, leaning on a pillow pinched between her head and the car window. My sister sat to my left, holding Leo in her lap as my boy slept peacefully as well.
"Where are we?" I asked.
"We're almost there! You kids are going to love Kalos. It's such an interesting place," my mother informed from the front seat. Idly, my hand rubbed my chest, and a flash of memory hit me. My breath quickened for a moment as I thought about the scene. Leo crying, Luca unconscious, Lady frozen in fear as another Lucario attacked her with a potentially life threatening attack. I looked around again and took a deep breath. It had to have been a dream...
Still dazed from waking so rudely in the car from such a deep sleep I reached out and stroked my dear mate's fluffy thigh. The touch of her soft fur was just as reassuring as the soft moan she gave in response. She gave me a smile after an adorably wide yawn and I couldn't help smiling back. Putting my arm around her as she leaned on my shoulder we watched the last of the landscape roll by before Lumiose city's Prism Tower could be seen growing through the windshield.
The Kalos region was just as amazing as my mother promised. Pokemon I had only ever read about flittered about through the streets. Lady was quite jealous when I found a Fennekin who's trainer didn't mind us petting and holding her. I laughed and joked how she was that cute when she was a Vulpix. The Fennekin enjoyed the joke, Lady didn't...
As we continued to stroll through the city another detail caught my eye. Affections between humans and pokemon didn't seem to be as taboo, especially with more human like pokemon. With a blush tinting my cheeks I took Luca's paw and held it gently as we walked. She smiled happily back as the warmth from her pads seemed to seep comfortingly into my hand. With that touch, I could somehow feel a deep concern and sadness within her. Hoping to put her at ease, though I couldn't fathom why she would feel sad as she smiled so happily, I put on my most confident smile and pulled her close. As my hand left her paw to wrap around her shoulder the sensation faded, assuring me I had made her feel better.
The pink haired woman hadn't said much when I brought in the injured human. I had left before she could come back. Now though she was at the front desk and quickly recognized me from my... rather gruesome appearance. Of course being trained to notice injuries she spotted the fresh cut on my forehead and hurried to take a look. I couldn't help nervously looking around for the trainer's pokemon. That Ninetales would certainly not appreciate me being here and if that Lucario saw the state her trainer must be in I doubted she would be so willing to let me go a second time.
Unfortunately, the nurse thought my caution was a search for the others and she started to lead me back to where they were. I quickly yanked my paw away from her and shook my head. Her look was quizzical as she failed to understand. Not knowing what else to do I looked to the messed fur on my arms and tried to express my desire to clean myself. Thinking that was why I was worried the woman smiled and motioned for me to follow her. With each new hall or door we entered I looked carefully around. I had no idea where the others would be, and if I saw the trainer I had something else I needed to do.
The nurse led me to a shower stall in one of the care rooms. After laying out a towel she smiled and left, leaving me to figure out the knobs myself. Despite rarely getting to use a stall like this I did know how it worked, and thankfully some of the fur cleaner left on a rack soon washed away the trainer's blood. Just to make sure though, I turned in front of a mirror after I had finished. Satisfied, I hoped I wouldn't be as horrid of a reminder to the others now that I was clean.
I dried my fur as quick as I could and peaked out of the door. The nurse apparently didn't think I would be done so fast so she was no where in sight. Slipping out I hurried through the halls to check the other doors. Most were unlocked but unoccupied. None of the doors had windows so aside from forcing the door I wouldn't be able to find the trainer. I cursed my luck once as I slowed my pace and started to walk back towards the main lobby. When I came to a cross road I saw a set of doors with small square windows. Peaking through I had to stifle a yelp. The four pokemon from before were there! The two females and the pup sat around the Umbreon who appeared to be conscious but bed ridden. Peaking through the window I wondered what happened to the black fox. Despite his grueling fight with the Feraligator he seemed only to have a limp the last time I saw him. Had he been hiding his injuries from the others? If he had been alone maybe I would have chanced talking to him but it was too risky with the others.
A bit defeated, I looked to the device I still held in my paw. My mind went blank as I wondered what to do next. Knowing if I stayed where I was I would be discovered by the wrong pokemon, I clenched my paw around the controller and turned away. A back door at the end of the hall gave me my escape. Making sure to avoid the nurse and any of the Chansey, I left as quietly as I could. I wouldn't go far but staying in the building was too dangerous.
After talking with Ky for a while I was finally forced to tell everyone how Felix was doing. Unable to describe the scene I witnessed, I lied and said he would be fine. Trying to keep it simple I told them he was asleep when I saw him so that was all I knew. When Ky fell asleep again we left him to rest and found Joy. She had already called Felix's family using the emergency information in his pokedex. I could only wonder how Mrs. Ikida was doing after hearing the news. Of course I couldn't help wondering what Joy had told her. The nurse was reluctant to discuss anything in detail with me. It seemed she didn't understand how close Felix and I really were. It was an agonizing two days before Felix's parents and his sister showed up at the center. Once there, I refused to leave Mrs. Ikida's side when Joy spoke to them. At least Lady understood and with the help of Talia and Ashley, she kept Leo occupied as I listened to the real extent of Felix's condition.
"Your son is very lucky. What ever he was hit with was very serious. He has multiple fractured and broken ribs. He has burns over most of his chest, mostly first and second degree but there were some third degree burns on his chest that required a skin graft. If that Lucario hadn't gotten him here when he did your son would have certainly have bled to death," Joy informed solemnly as we stood in Felix's room. Still asleep and hooked up to the machines he was as unmoving as the last time I'd seen him. Mrs. Ikida was in tears though she stayed quiet and held my paw tight. Idly, I wondered if she thought I carried Felix here. "Thanks to modern medicine though he will heal completely in about six weeks. In another few days he won't need the machines and we can wake him. You're welcome to stay here if you wish," Joy continued politely.
"We'll stay," Mr. Ikida answered for everyone. With that Joy nodded and left the three of us alone with Felix.
After exploring Lumiose City for a few days with my family Luca and I decided to take a trip of our own to the Tower of Mastery. We had heard there was a strange statue resembling a Lucario there. It was a pleasant trip but I couldn't help wondering why Luca still seemed so sad but looked so happy. Regardless, I did my best to make sure she was enjoying our vacation as much as I was. When we finally made it to the Tower of Mastery both of us were awe struck and more than a little frightened by the statue.
The statue's fierce eyes seemed to drill right into one's soul. That alone was enough to make one reverent in the tower, but coupled with the creatures grossly extended teardrop lobes and the many extra spikes adorning its body I began to wonder if Lucario might have some kind of forgotten evolution. The longer I looked the more I found myself hoping Luca wouldn't evolve into such a terrifying creature. Finally, Luca took my hand and held it tightly. Once more I felt that sad concern in her touch. I looked to her then back to the statue's eyes once more. As I did I was suddenly transfixed. Those fierce eyes had changed. They were those of a real Lucario! Fear stabbed through my body as the statue started to move. Stone flaked from its body revealing glimmering golden fur covering its arms legs and head between its black mask and markings. Blue fur the same hue as Luca's was revealed to cover the creature's chest as it held its paws out towards me. By far the most terrifying though was the blood red color that adorned each of the creature's paws and the end of each of its four lobes. Quaking in fear my eyes grew wide as I watched the now living statue gather a buzzing ball of energy between its paws. My thoughts flashed back to the dream I'd had about a Lucario attacking us. My mind told me to run, or at least to shove Luca out of the way, but I couldn't move. The creature's gaze was paralyzing.
~Wake up!~ A thunderous voice rattled in my head. Somehow I knew it was that of the statue. Before I could even contemplate the meaning of those words the creature fired its attack, engulfing me in a blinding light.
What happened? Where was I? Was I dead or alive? The first of my senses to return was smell. Where ever I was, it smelled crisp and clean. Weakly I blinked my eyes open as I shifted. My body achingly protested to moving but I felt something holding my right hand. My neck was stiff, as if I hadn't moved in hours but I managed to look towards whatever it was. As my vision started to clear I could see two pointed triangles on top of the creature tightly holding my hand. "Lu-ca?" I managed, my throat raw for some reason. Slowly my head began to clear and the memory of the statue and my dream from the car flashed though my head. With a start I tried to sit up, but a blinding pain forced me to gasp and relax. The paw on my hand squeezed tighter.
"Don't move!" Luca whined as my vision finally cleared. I could see my mate had tears in her eyes, but the sensation radiating from where she touched me was one of happiness and relief. Movement to my left caught my attention next. Again I rolled my head to the side with conscious effort. To my surprise the rest of my family was there, even my sister.
"What are you...? What happened?" I groaned, finding myself unable to move the rest of my body without pain.
"You've been asleep for six days. You were hurt in a fight. Do you remember?" Joy asked from the foot of the bed.
"A-a fight? The statue?" I asked in confusion, trying to piece together the fragments of images still floating in my memory. Joy wrote something down on a clipboard she was holding before motioning to my mother and father. Luca looked between them but remained with me, though she cocked an ear in their direction as Joy started whispering.so only they could hear.
As Joy spoke Lady jumped up on the side of my bed to sniff at my face. "Hey girl," I managed with a smile, but again found it too painful to reach up and pet her. She knew what I wanted to do though and eagerly gave me a sloppy lick on the cheek. I couldn't help laughing but quickly found myself in a painful coughing fit as my chest tightened to make the sound. Everyone paused to look at me as I recovered. I still felt a bit dazed and confused from being asleep for so long but the looks of concern everyone was giving me worried me more. It was then I noticed the bandages wrapped around my body. A concerned curiosity bloomed in my head as I brought my left hand up to feel the bandages. I touched myself in the chest and winced at the pain from even a light touch.
"Careful, you were very badly injured," Joy said cautiously, her trained eyes watching as I met them.
"H-how? The Lucario statue was real?" I asked again in confusion, trying to hold on to what I thought I remembered about the last week and our vacation in Kalos.
"No, the Lucario that attacked us. You jumped in front of his attack," Luca said gently.
Joy gave her a quick look, but returned her eyes to me as Luca's ear flicked.
"Th-that wasn't a dream?" I stuttered, remembering when I woke in the car. I looked around and noticed there were some things wrong with what I was remembering of the past week. Mom, dad, and Ashley had all looked a bit younger, and how could I forget Ky and Talia? They hadn't even been there!
"I'll let your family explain everything. Try not to move too much. Your chest still needs to heal," Joy replied and made another note on the clip board she held. After hanging the board on the bed she gave a smile and left with a Chansey in tow.
"What's going on? Why are all of you here?" I asked first, looking to my family. Suddenly though a realization hit me. "Where's Leo? And Ky?" I exclaimed in a panic. I tried to move again but fell back just as before with a wince of pain.
Worried, Luca put a paw on my shoulder to keep me still. "Just relax, they're fine. They'll be in soon," my mother said as she too held my hand. I looked to my dad as he stood there silently. There was obvious concern in his eyes but I couldn't help feeling embarrassed lying helpless in a bed in front of him.
"Dad!" Leo's voice barked a moment later. He leapt to the foot of the bed and was just about to dive on me in a hug when Luca grabbed him.
"He's still hurt Leo! You can't touch his chest okay?" she scolded. Always taking our warnings too close to his heart, Leo's ears folded as Luca set him down where he could stand on the bed and look me over. His eyes welled with tears as he started to sniffle and cry. Luca visibly saddened as well, afraid her words had made him cry but it was more a matter of the little one's excitement wearing off and reality hitting him.
"Come here buddy, you can still hug my neck," I encouraged with a smile, trying to be brave for my boy. Oddly though, he seemed a little bigger than I remembered. The Riolu scrambled to accept and wrapped his arms tightly around my neck. I gagged in a restrained laugh as he nuzzled my cheek.
It was all I could do to move my hand to stroke his back as I looked at the others. Lady whined as she laid her head on the bed, wanting pet as well since I'd failed before. I still couldn't see Ky until dad picked him up and set the Umbreon at my feet. "I'm so glad you're all safe," I said first, scratching my fingers weakly behind Lady's ears and still rubbing Leo's back. "So can anyone fill me in? What happened? How am I still... well, here?" I asked, still wanting details.
Maybe it was the pain killers or sedatives coursing through my body but the whole story seemed like a blur when everyone was done sharing. Thankfully, I managed to cheer everyone up more than a little bit when I recounted what I could still remember of my dream. I decided to leave out a more detailed description of the Lucario statue though. I wanted to talk to Luca about that when I got a chance but didn't want to scare everyone with how terrifying and realistic it actually felt.
Apparently, I owed my life to the Lucario we'd been fighting. It sounded suspicious but considering my family were the ones telling me this I figured it wasn't some elaborate deception. The Darkrai grunt had been caught by the police later that night and he would be spending life in prison. His pokemon would be sent to a reformation center in hopes they could be retrained. Ky had been seriously hurt but made a full recovery in the days I was kept unconscious until my wounds wouldn't split open at the slightest twitch. Speaking of wounds I got a look at those too when Joy came to change my bandages. I figured I was lucky I wasn't in more pain... The starburst design on my chest looked like it should have hurt a lot more. Joy told me she had to give me a large skin graft but it should heal with only a little bit of scaring. I thanked her for the care but had to try not to be sick thinking of how it must have looked before hand. Luckily Joy didn't detail much more.
When Joy was done tending to me everyone returned to continue visiting. It wasn't until the sun had set that Joy chased everyone but Luca and Leo out to let me get some rest. Luca had insisted she stay even if she had to sleep on the couch and Leo had done the same despite Ashley suggesting Talia would miss him. Joy protested but drew the line with my mate and son when Lady started trying to keep her spot in the room. I assured them I'd be here tomorrow and gave a reassuring smile as they left.
I fell asleep readily that night but woke around 1 am. Bed pans were a real pain and I really couldn't wait to finally be out of the bed! Sadly Joy said I would have to put up with it for two more weeks before I could leave.
After relieving myself I hit a button to call a Chansey. Humiliated, I blushed and avoided the pokemon's smiling face as she changed the pan for me. After cracking the window for a little bit of fresh air the egg pokemon left me to my rest. With a sigh I closed my eyes to try and fall back to sleep but before I could drift off, a strong paw closed over my mouth. Startled, my eyes shot open to find a Lucario staring back at me. A chill ran down my spine as I saw the pokemon who'd attacked us in the woods! I was about to scream when the Lucario held a paw to his muzzle, as if begging me not to.
Terrified, I did as he told and the paw softly came away from my mouth. I stared at the creature for a long moment before he looked away. Despite the adrenaline coursing through my veins I noticed something was different about him. The vacant careless gaze he wore when he attacked us was sorrowful and pleading. That fact alone kept me from calling to Luca as soon as I was released.
Satisfied with my compliance, the Lucario reached for the end table next to the bed to grab the TV remote. When the pokemon's attention returned to me he leaned close and parted the fur around his neck with one paw. Around the Lucario's neck was quite clearly an electronic collar. A small red light seemed to indicate it was still active. Once the Lucario was sure I had seen the collar he leaned back and pointed to the remote in his paw. Confused, I looked closer at the device he held. Sure enough, it wasn't the TV remote. All at once it made sense why the Lucario would choke and stiffen before obeying the grunt. He was being threatened! A tinge of pity struck my heart as I continued to watch the pokemon mime what he wanted.
He either didn't want to disturb Luca and Leo or the Lucario knew I wouldn't understand him. Either way, he motioned as if pressing the button at the top of the controller, then brought a paw to his neck. Motioning the only way I could, I nodded softly that I understood. The Lucario looked around quickly after that and finding a digital clock next to the bed he pointed at the minute mark. I nodded again as he held up one of his digits.
The Lucario swallowed hard as he continued and dragged his wrist spike close to his neck in a line. My eyes widened as I figured out what he meant. Before I could react further the Lucario thrust the device into my hand and forced my fingers to close around it! Luckily I hadn't complied fully because if my thumb had been on the button it would have been pressed. "What are you doing?" I said sharply but quietly, making sure to keep my fingers away from the activation button despite the Lucario's paws trembling and trying to get me to kill him. His ears lay back as he winced at my words. Looking up at me he seemed confused and anxious. Just then Luca and Leo shifted on the couch nearby. Taking a step back the Lucario's paws left my hand. An instant later he was gone, darting out the window he'd come in.
Luca settled back in with Leo and never woke but the Lucario didn't come back. Curious, I brought the trigger device closer to have a better look. Even in the dark I could see the red button that activated the collar, but running my fingers over the whole thing I felt a switch and button on the bottom as well. Despite the motion sending a spike of pain through my chest I brought the thing close and squinted to see in the dark. Realizing what the second set of controls were I turned the switch until it clicked and pressed the button. The button pressed deeply, taking up to my first knuckle to depress fully where it clicked again...
That trainer wouldn't press the button either. I couldn't help wondering why as I crouched in a tree behind the center. I'd finally gotten my chance to give the trainer the trigger the Ninetales had thrown back at me, sparing my life rather undeservedly. So why wouldn't he do it? For all he knew I had tried to kill his pokemon and nearly killed him. Why wasn't he angry? Why wasn't he furious lying in that bed with a split open chest and... *Click.*
Something sounded at my neck, making me freeze in mid thought. Had he actually pressed the button? Why wasn't the collar choking me to death? In fact, it actually felt looser. *Click* Again the sound came and this time I felt a rush of air across flesh and fur that had been covered for a long time. The next thing I heard was the clatter of the collar hitting the ground far below. I stared, unable to believe it. Was that an accident? Had the trainer just happened to hit the right triggers to free me? No, that wasn't possible. That had to be done on purpose, there was no way it was an accident.
I leapt to the ground and picked the collar up in my paw. Sure enough the light was out as the thing laid split open at the back and bent slightly at the halfway point. I looked back at the window I'd just left and couldn't help wondering again. Why...?
After setting the device aside I got back to sleep. I hoped that Lucario would realize he was free and could go live his life, but I couldn't help wondering why he had tried to get me to kill him. Was it because he didn't think the collar would come off and leave him alive or was he truly remorseful of what he'd done? I reserved myself to wondering, doubting that I would ever see him again.
As I stirred to life in the morning Leo awoke with me. Immediately I caught a scent that wasn't supposed to be in the room. Fear flashed through my mind as that Lucario's smell lingered. Not wanting to alarm Leo I slipped out of the bed and hurried to Felix. Thankfully, he was sleeping peacefully. Next to his bed though was the same trigger Lady had thrown back at the Lucario. Seeing the window open I couldn't help the confusion and fear that plagued me about what might have happened last night. I quickly shut the window and locked it before hiding the trigger in the garbage can.
Only then did I return to see if Leo would want to get something to eat. It made me smile when his tummy answered for him. I picked up my pup and went to the door. Outside Lady and Ky were already waiting for someone to let them in. It seemed Joy didn't trust Lady not to figure out the door with her tails so she had locked it.
After a brief good morning with the two, Leo and I left them to keep Felix company while we found something to eat. Leo always loved the variety of food Joy set out in the mornings. Fresh picked berries over what Felix called a waffle were his favorite so he quickly ran to make one for himself.
Only a few steps behind my pup I suddenly froze when that unwanted scent caught my nose again. "May I please speak with you?" came a voice from a corner behind me. My ears flattened as a chill went down my spine. I turned my head slowly and sure enough the Lucario stood just a few feet away.
"What are you doing here?" I growled in a low tone, quickly checking on Leo as I stepped up to the Lucario to hide him from my son's immediate view.
"Please. I mean no harm. Your trainer..." he started but I hardly believed it.
"Yes I know you were there. You're lucky he didn't push that button but if you show your face again I will!" I cut him off pointedly. The Lucario lowered his gaze at my words but held out his paw.
"I need to know why he did it," he continued as I realized the collar was no longer around his neck. With my only safety gone I took a quick step back. My eyes narrowed as I examined him, only to have Leo return.
"Mom! They have Oran berries today. Your favorite," he barked happily, carrying a plate with a waffle pilled high with blue syrup and chopped Oran berries. Upon seeing the other Lucario though Leo froze mid step, his paws gripping his loaded plate.
"It's okay Leo. He was just leaving. Come on, let's eat," I said kindly, as if nothing were wrong. The truth was it took every bit of strength I had to turn away from the Lucario to leave with my son. Looking over my shoulder I glared at him. He seemed to get the message and left, at least for now. Watching him go though, something seemed wrong about his demeanor. His ears were back and he seemed utterly defeated walking through the front doors. I couldn't help feeling a tinge of pity, despite the strong desire not to, but there was one thing I knew for sure now. He wouldn't leave that easily.
I shared Leo's breakfast but mainly because the pup had lost his appetite seeing the other Lucario. He worriedly questioned why pokemon like him were allowed here, and if he would leave us alone. I tried to assure him he was safe here but by the way my pup kept looking at the door I doubt he truly believed me. Actually, I wasn't sure I believed myself.
When I woke the next day Luca and Leo were gone from their bed. Lady and Ky had replaced them and my ninetales was nothing but affectionate as I scratched behind her ears. The trigger was gone from the table and I wondered if the Lucario had taken it back. Oddly enough though the window was locked from the inside, so I could only wonder what happened. My mate and son soon returned but both of them seemed distracted. After Luca left the room, claiming she wanted to stretch out a bit with a walk, Leo told me they'd seen that Lucario in the lobby. My anxiousness rose once more hearing about the Lucario, but my curiosity about his confronting us was quickly overshadowing my fear. However, that did little to quell the fears of Lady and Leo. My Ninetales growled and hurried after Luca when Leo finished, her tails displaying her obvious anger. Ky whined as he nearly took a step after Lady, but looking back at me and Leo he decided to stay. Not long after that my human family came to keep my company.
Leo's nerves eased greatly when Talia flew in to hug him. Of course the Latias wanted to play but Leo was reluctant to leave my side. "Go on bud. I'll be here when you get back. I promise," I encouraged as I roughed the fur between his ears. He couldn't hold back a giggle as I teased him and thanked me before running off to play. Ashley followed a moment later to make sure they didn't go far.
"I know you're still here," I growled to an unseen listener. I could sense his aura easily, though it only raised more questions as he broadcasted his anguish like a beacon. There was a spark of relief though as he came down from a branch to stand before me. "Why won't you leave?" I began.
"Where should I go?" he answered, his eyes seeming to plead for an answer.
"Anywhere but here. Go to Joy, or Jenny. Get yourself help and leave us alone," I snapped back.
"Please... I need to know. Why did you let me go? Why did you trust me at all after what I did?" he pleaded.
"We had no choice. Thank you for saving my mate but that's all you're going to get. Lady let you keep your life and apparently Felix freed you of the last reminder of what you did. You've been given more than you should hope for or even deserve. So leave," I growled and crossed my paws. The Lucario seemed shocked I'd called Felix my mate, and his shoulders slumped further as I put voice to what he must have been thinking. Rather than follow my demand though, his legs buckled and he fell to his knees.
"You're right... I know I don't deserve it, so why did you do it? Why have you all just let me go?" he choked out, his eyes wavering with a glistening of tears in them as he stared up at me. "H-Here, at least put the collar back," he begged, offering the collar to me.
"No," I answered simply, standing there with a bit of guilty satisfaction. I had no idea why this was such torture to him but I knew I was only doing what Felix would. Even if he might have been nicer about it, and probably wouldn't be enjoying the situation as much as I was...
"Why?" he shot back angrily, his paw clenching the collar.
"Because I don't hurt others to satisfy myself," I replied calmly, despite the current situation making my retort half a lie. "Why does it bother you so much anyway?" I continued, my curiosity starting to overwhelm my dislike of the Lucario.
"You're an ancient!" he yelled as he threw the collar away. Ironically, it smashed into a tree and broke, never to be used again. The Lucario blinked as he stared for a moment before getting to his feet and continuing his guilt ridden tirade. "I nearly killed your... your mate. I hurt your friends, and all you do is tell me to leave! I can't keep living with everything I've done, especially to you."
I stood firm where I was despite the angered Lucario waving his arms as he yelled. When he finished he stood there panting, his eyes searching my features for that hint of malice he desperately wanted me to show. Part of me did hate him for what he did but seeing how tortured he was by these simple acts of kindness I was actually starting to feel bad for him. "What do you mean I'm an ancient?" I asked, finding this accusation more interesting than the others. Did he know where I came from?
"I saw you fight with your eyes closed. You could see me even then couldn't you? My mother told me stories when I was young, that I should always revere and honor the ancients. And yet I tried to kill you to save my own life. I wish I had the courage at that moment your trainer... I-I mean, your mate, had," he confessed, lowering his eyes to the ground as he clenched his paws into fists.
I was stunned by his admission and wondered what it meant. What would other Lucario think of my abilities? My thoughts were only brought back to the present by a sniff from the Lucario and several tears wetting the dirt. "If it will make you feel better come back to the room tonight and talk to Felix. I'll leave the window open and I'll stay to translate for you," I offered, though even that still made me nervous. If he really was that desperate for retribution would he try to hurt Felix again in order to force me to hurt or kill him?
Shocked and once again seeming hurt by the offer, the Lucario stared back at me with a mix of desperation and sadness. "Otherwise just leave. We won't pursue you," I finished and turned to leave. My ear twitched though as the Lucario replied.
"Please tell him... I'm sorry," he said again, getting me to face him once more. Seeing his eyes lower and his body sag under the weight of his conscience I felt the hate and fear in my heart dull just a little further. Maybe this was why Felix had freed him of the collar.
"I appreciate your apology but tell him yourself," I answered. Perhaps my voice was a little cold as I spoke but by the way his eyes raised to meet mine I knew he'd caught the distinct lack of an edge to my tone. With that I turned and walked back to the center.
Thankfully, Lady's concern for me was greater than her desire to roast the Lucario as we ran into each other at the door. The Lucario was no where in sight and despite her growls Lady followed me back to the room to be with Felix.
Later that night everything seemed to fall into place for my plans. Felix's family retired to their rooms and with Felix's reassurance Leo decided to sleep with Talia since the two hadn't been together very much until then. Lady tried to stay with Felix again but since Joy had won the first time she had to leave as well. I would have said something if it weren't for the comforting shoulder she had in Ky. The Umbreon seemed dedicated to making her happy even if he was still sore from his own injuries.
When we were alone I told Felix about the talk I'd had with the other Lucario. At first he was worried but when I finished he rubbed between my ears and told me how proud he was of me. I couldn't help blushing at his praise and finally Felix and I shared a long, passionate kiss we were too embarrassed to indulge amidst the day's constant company.
As our lips parted my ear flicked towards the window. The Lucario had shown up just as we finished. I turned and stood firmly by my mate; ignoring the heated blush in my cheeks that kissing Felix always left me with.
Felix stared for a moment before he spoke, "My name is Felix and you've met Luca. What's your name?"
The Lucario carefully stepped from the window sill and answered softly, "My name is Kail," though Felix might have missed his soft spoken words my ears caught it all and I translated diligently.
"Well Kail. I think first I should thank you for bringing me here and saving my life," Felix began, surprising both me and Kail...
Our talk with Kail might have started out a little forced and guarded but by the time midnight rolled around the Lucario had opened up considerably. At first he begged me to explain why I had deactivated the collar. He was a little confused when I told him I wanted him to be free of it so he wouldn't have to obey anyone like that again. In the end, I figured the reason he was so unwilling to accept forgiveness was because of all the things Darkrai had made him do.
By his own admission, Kail had disobeyed his many Darkrai trainers so much that they had resorted to threatening his life. With the collar around his neck Kail had finally been broken, and fearing for his life he was forced to do many cruel things. The last straw though was when I saved Luca and Lady. Before then, he'd never been made to take another's life. Having become jaded to the orders of the grunts he complied before he truly realized what he was doing. Even so, he never guessed I would sacrifice myself and the shock had been enough to at least temporarily assuage his fear of death.
Reliving his captive life and the incident with me, Kail was reduced to stifled sniffles and tears as he slumped against the wall. He begged for forgiveness from Luca and I, apologizing over and over. I truly felt sorry for him but stuck in the bed there was little I could do. Thankfully, Luca's hatred seemed to have waned and she gently laid a paw on his shoulder. With a rekindled glimmer of hope in his eyes Kail looked up at her.
"Maybe I can't understand why you would hurt others to save yourself but I'm glad you helped us when you did. So thank you," she said calmly before she gave him a soft, though still forced, hug. Again I could feel the slight burn of jealousy as my mate hugged him, but I forced the feeling down as I watched Kail's eyes widened in surprised relief.
"What about you?" he said to me after Luca had let him go and returned to my side.
"Without being put in that situation I can't understand either, but Luca said it best. Thank you," I repeated, both proud and surprised by the maturity my mate was showing through all of this.
"I don't deserve your thanks after what I've done. Is there really nothing more I can do?" Kail pleaded, shakily rising to his feet and venturing a step closer. When neither of us protested he continued, coming to stand at the bedside as he held my gaze. Though her tail flicked with anxiety, Luca translated. Clearly Kail was willing to accept Luca's feelings of him no matter what they were, but seeing as he hurt me I was the one he seemed to feel should control his fate.
I saw Kail's eyes dart nervously to my chest, the sight of the bandages wrapped around me made his paw clench as he swallowed hard. Just then I had an idea. I raised an arm to take Luca's paw. Kail tensed and watched, wondering what I would do. I tugged at Luca's arm though, pulling her down to whisper in her ear so softly even Kail's perked ears couldn't hear.
Having slid my hand down to hold my mate's paw I felt her stiffen at my suggestion. Her gaze met mine as she spoke, softly asking if I was sure but not caring who heard. "If it's okay with you," I replied seriously.
"What about Lady, and Leo? He's still terrified, he watched you get..." Luca started, only stopping when the movement of Kail's folding ears drew her attention.
"I know, but he deserves a chance at least," I answered. This time Luca swallowed hard before she looked long and hard at Kail. Without another word she fetched my backpack and held it open while I fished inside. "Ky said your ball was destroyed, and without that collar you're just another wild pokemon," I began as I found what I wanted. "So here," I continued as I tossed a little pokeball to Kail. Surprised, he flinched but caught the thing in his paws. Shock and confusion spread over his face as he looked back to me in disbelief. "You either come with us as one of our family, or you find your own path. Whatever you choose you don't owe us anything Kail. Even if you did this to me in the first place I wouldn't be here right now without your help. For that I can't thank you enough," I finished, and watched to see what the Lucario would do.
"B-but I-I couldn't..." he stammered, Luca really didn't need to translate but she did anyway. She seemed a bit more solemn with the turn of events though and I hoped I hadn't misjudged her earlier kindness.
"Then give it back and you can leave. We won't... well, Luca won't stop you. But if it would make you feel better, come with us," I offered again, chuckling a little bit at my joke since I couldn't move from the bed. Kail gawked, stunned I was joking about my situation.
"What about you?" Kail asked of Luca. Clearly he was considering taking my offer but didn't want to offend Luca.
"I might be willing to trust you right now but the others might not. I warn you, if you take one step out of line I will make Felix leave you behind. Understand?" Luca said as her steely eyed gaze rendered Kail unable to look away. However... her last question wasn't entirely directed at Kail. I gritted my teeth as I hid the discomfort of Luca squeezing my hand. The hardest part was suppressing the urge to laugh and yell uncle in an attempt to quell the slight tinge of ire in her aura.
That night Kail joined our strange little family. After thinking about it for a moment he pushed the button and allowed himself to be caught. Luca let him back out much to his surprise. When he was with Darkrai he was rarely left out of his ball except to fight and eat. In fact after the three of us got a few hours of sleep he actually begged me to put him in his ball before the rest of my family came in. Of course I refused, though I made sure Luca was ready to catch Lady the instant she opened the door.
As predicted, Lady's hackles rose when she saw Kail. I was certain if we hadn't been in a pokemon center she would have thrown an excessive amount of fire his way. Ky seemed wary of the Lucario too and Leo refused to even come in the room as he clung to my sister's leg for protection. Needless to say it was a little awkward for the first hour until I made it clear I wanted to give Kail another chance. Begrudgingly Lady settled with growling at him when he came near her instead of roasting him.
Since the growly ninetales was adamantly curled up on my legs, refusing to let Kail near, Leo felt safe with me. My family didn't seem to mind another Lucario, but my mother was uncharacteristically quiet with him when she learned he was the one who had hurt me. It didn't seem to matter that he only did so under the threat of death.
Surprisingly, it was my sister who was the nicest to Kail; and when he became uncomfortable and left she was the one who managed to find and talk to him for a while. In the end she coaxed him back to the room to at least stop trying to hide and face up to my family. After that everyone seemed to at least be hospitable towards him.
The next three weeks were an enormous pain in the butt. Sometimes quite literally... My parents returned home the day after Kail joined us but they came back at least once a week to make sure I was still doing alright. Even my sister came between her competitions which, as a bonus, gave Leo some play time with Talia. Lady eased up on Kail a little bit but Luca and Ky were the nicest to him aside from my sister. Leo stayed at my side almost constantly when Kail was in the same room despite my constant reassurance.
I knew it was hard for Luca to take care of everyone and to try and keep our frayed family glued together. Ky was doing his best to help but Lady would scold him for doing too much while his own injuries were in their final stages of healing. The ninetales seemed to be a little more protective of her Umbreon since he had gotten hurt. I asked Leo to help his mom and be brave for me but when it was just the two of us he often lost his composure and sobbed into my shoulder, begging me to get better and promising not to let anything bad happen to me again.
Even Luca had her moments of weakness and vented her troubles to me. Having Kail around bothered her but she promised me she was trying. I couldn't help being proud of her. Despite her complaints, she treated Kail with a kindness that still seemed to make the Lucario uncomfortable. However, something in my mate was different. Even when she said she felt better and gave me a loving kiss goodnight I could feel it. Something deep in her heart she wouldn't let go of and wouldn't talk to me about no matter how many times I asked if she was alright. By far those were the hardest moments for me. Lying helpless in a bed as my mate settled down with our son; unable to coax her troubles from her with an embrace; unable to quell her fears with a touch. Simply stuck lying in a bed, shifting around to try and keep my strength and avoid bed sores...
I knew the stress of our extended stay at the center was wearing on everyone, especially Luca since she was trying so hard to keep everyone happy. Sure we had stayed at home for times like this but there was no training, or even any real games to be played here. With me stuck in a bed everyone tended to brood in their misery inside rather than enjoy the outdoors or relax on the cushions of the couch or bed. Thankfully, an agonizing four weeks after I'd been admitted, Joy let me get up out of the bed! My legs felt alien as I stood on the floor. The first thing I did was wrap Luca in a tight embrace, almost crying because I had wanted to do it for so long. Startled, she yelped, thinking I was going to fall. In all honesty I might have had she not held me up, but when she realized my tears weren't those of pain but joy she murred as she readily returned the affection. I'll admit it hurt a lot, but it was well worth the pain to hold the one I loved close once more.
After a long sweet moment, nature decided to rear its ugly head. Despite my exercises, I nearly fell as I scrambled to the bathroom, refusing to use that cursed bed pan any longer!
My chest felt weak and sore as I worked through a full two weeks of rehabilitation with Joy and her Chansey. With her treatments and the support of my friends and family, I was able to function in no time; even if I couldn't lift as much as I used to. In fact, I couldn't even lift Luca off the ground in a hug when Joy finally released me, but seeing as it was the first time I could hug her tightly without feeling pain. I really didn't care how much my weakness amused her.
My family came to support me in those last days but I insisted I travel back home on my own instead of in the car. It wasn't only the fact I was suffering from a little cabin fever. I figured a camping trip might help everyone feel better as well.
Begrudgingly, my parents accepted my decision, but they made sure to take us shopping for supplies before they left with my sister. Leo gave Talia a tight hug as the dragon had to leave with Ashley, but I knew my son was happy to be traveling again. He had even grown another two inches during our stay but his little growth spurt topped out at 2'10". Even though Luca carried my backpack for me I hoisted Leo to my shoulders as we walked away from the center. Overjoyed to have things back to the way they were, Leo laughed and curled over my head. Unfortunately, I couldn't hold him for too long with how big he had gotten, but he was so proud of his growth that he didn't seem to mind. I bent to pet Lady and Ky before Luca grabbed and nuzzled my arm. Kail followed a few paces behind as we set out. He might have agreed to stay with us but Lady and Leo still weren't entirely trusting and he didn't want to impose. Regardless, the six of us left the city, and this time... without being attacked.
Chapter End Notes:
Hello everyone! I'm still trying to keep my resolutions for this year! I've been busy doing woodworking for AC but I still find a little time during breaks at work to write. Sadly it's slow going. Either way, here's the latest final edit of Luca. Hope you enjoy! and as always I enjoy comments.