Re: The Human Species (PG-13)
The Gallade gave off a short laugh before putting his arm on Lucario's shoulder. Lucario twitched, remembering their earlier battle, but was pleased to notice that the arms weren't glowing and thus harmless.
"You know, just felt like warning you" the Gallade said, "You're a cool guy. I wouldn't mind going out for a drink with you one night."
"T-T-Thank y-you…?" Lucario stammered badly, receiving some very strange vibes from the slender Pokémon.
"Anyway, I've said my piece and I've done my part" the Gallade said and scratched the side of his face that was still itching from the battle, "D'you need me for anything else?"
"We're good, and always were" Pikablu replied snarkily, "Take that as a standing dis-invitation."
"Would you pronounce this thing and make it official, then…?" Kabutops asked, noticing the Gallade's subtle plea for just the same thing.
"Sure thing" Pikablu said while shrugging his shoulders, "Mission accomplished. You're all free to do what you want."
"HAHAHA! About time!" the Gallade shouted happily as he threw his arms up into the air, "Finally, it's time to update my website, blog and everything else! So long, suckers!"
The Gallade posed magnificently for a few moments. Seeing many unimpressed looks headed his way, he lowered his arms disappointedly.
"… Uh, do you guys need a ride somewhere?" he asked meekly.
"We're fine" Pikablu answered.
"Yeah" Kabuta said with a cocky voice, "Don't forget the camera, uncle sissy"
"Hah! That'll be uncle AWESOME to you once you see the feature presentation!" the Gallade replied cockily before raising his arms again, "Anyway, I'm outta here! Ciao!"
The Gallade suddenly disappeared, leaving behind a miniature implosion that startled both Lucario and Zerobi.
"But…" Kabuta whispered confusedly to herself, "… We all already saw the feature presentation..."
"Rockers" Kabutops said while putting his scythe on her head, "What have I told you about listening to uncle sissy?"
"Besides, you've already got one awesome uncle" Pikablu said with a smile, "And father… And mother… And brother…"
"True" Kabutops said while smiling to himself, "I do believe it's time for us to return home."
"I'm going back as well, to give Anne some reprieve" Pikablu said while reaching up and patting Kabuta on the back, "Good job on your first mission, kiddo."
"Thanks…" Kabuta whispered, not at all enthralled at what once would have sent her jumping for joy. Instead, she received a glint of determination in her eye as she looked over at Lucario and suddenly made a small leap towards him.
"Lucario!" she shouted, bowing her head in a show of respect few had seen, "Take me with you!"
"E… Eh?" Lucario stuttered with surprise, "W-With me? Where?"
"I've always wanted to go on a REAL adventure!" Kabuta explained while thinking about falling to her knees, but knew she would not be able to keep an upright position with only one arm, "Pops and Picks both went on an adventure… This is my best chance to have one, too!"
"Adventure!?" Pikablu yelled angrily while moving towards them and staring at Kabuta, "Are you crazy!? This idiot's heading towards certain doom!"
"I… WHAT!?" Lucario exclaimed in a worried outburst.
"What I mean, is…" Pikablu said, not breaking his eye contact with Kabuta, "You lost one arm under his watch, and you'll lose a lot more than that if you go with him."
"HEY!" Lucario shouted, "She lost it under YOUR watch! At least I did everything I could to stop it!"
"Again, you're not helping" Pikablu groaned as he felt like he could actually see all subtlety glancing by Lucario, "The next time, I'll just knock you out before starting."
"Picks, I…" Kabuta said confidently while looking back and forth between the two, "I need to do this! When I return, I'll be much stronger!"
The three of them kept bickering back and forth as tension begun to rise. Kabutops sighed and decided to move in between them, his calm demeanor almost instantly dispelling all the animosity surrounding them.
"Kabuta…" he said slowly while facing his daughter, seeing a bit of his younger self in her eyes, "… You've grown."
"Pops… I…" Kabuta stammered, not knowing what to say.
"Lucario, would you continue your journey in solace?" Kabutops said as he turned around and looked at Lucario, "Selfish as it may be, I wish to spend more time with my daughter before she is fully grown up…"
"Not a problem!" Lucario replied happily, relieved at the outcome as Kabuta was giving him the same set of strange vibes that he got from the Gallade earlier. Both Pikablu and Kabuta were half a second away from saying something to this, but stopped themselves as they noticed Celebi and Zerobi had returned. They took a step back, leaving a somewhat nervous Lucario alone in front of the two.
"Lucario…" Zerobi said slowly while facing him directly, "Is there anything I can do to get you to stay?"
"No" Lucario said bluntly on purpose, for some reason having been left unsatisfied and feeling like igniting another fight.
"But… When you are done with your quest…" Zerobi continued undauntedly, "… Will you return?" Lucario stood in silence, dropping his plans on teasing her when he noticed the sincerity in her voice. All she wanted was to be with him, and for the first time he was actually starting to feel sorry for her.
"… No" he said, knowing that in the end there was only one answer that he could give without lying.
"… I-I see…" Zerobi stammered sadly and lowered her head once more.
"Ugh… This is too painful to watch" Pikablu grumbled at Lucario with an annoyed tone, "Don't be such a hardass. You're really going to break a girl's heart, just like that?"
"Do I have a choice…?" Lucario muttered, "I'm human. No matter what, I'll never be able to see Zerobi as anything but a weird creature, and especially not a 'girl'."
"I have no way of putting this delicately, and frankly I don't care at this point" Lucario said and with a sad expression thought back to his very first encounter with a Pokémon, "… You're all animal to me. Friendly, but still animal."
"… Animal?" Pikablu repeated while crossing his arms in the usual manner, "Not sure what that means, but I'm guessing it's not good…"
"Anima…?" Zerobi said while remembering the expression from one of her occult magazines, "But… I don't understand…"
"Between eating berries, living out in the wild and being hunted by my own kind…" Lucario explained, every word tasting like another disgusting berry on his tongue, "If there's a train heading out of this life, I'm taking it."
"… Train?" Pikablu repeated, feeling like he had to parrot Lucario's every line to even understand them, "Do you EVER take anything seriously?"
"Only when I have to" Lucario responded coolly, "It's easier to deal with bad stuff when you've got a sense of humor about it."
The two of them stared each other down for a moment. While to everyone else this would seem like a hostile display, between the two of them they could see something new in the eyes of their counterpart.
"Heh… You're an oddball, but I've befriended worse" Pikablu said with a smile as he walked up and patted Lucario's right leg, "Feel free to visit us once you've failed your mission."
"Psst…" Kabuta leaned in and whispered in Lucario's ear, "He means 'good luck'…"
"I know what it is like to be on a journey to find one's true self" Kabutops said as Pikablu backed off, "Hopefully, you will reach the same conclusion as I."
"Uh…" Kabuta mumbled while trying to make sense out of her father's sayings, "I think that means 'good luck', too."
"Yeah, I got all of that" Lucario chuckled while looking at Kabuta, "What about you?"
"I'll be… Fine" she replied with a less than confident tone in her voice, "You sure I can't come with you?"
"It wouldn't work" Lucario said quickly, "But don't worry - You're strong enough as it is. And if anyone asks, I'll tell them that you held me off with only one arm!"
"… Stupid…" Kabuta whispered to herself as she moved away from him with an angry and saddened face, "… I don't care about that…"
Lucario then looked at the tiny green Celebi floating next to the elegant black Weavile. Seeing any resemblance of family ties between them was impossible, and he silently wondered if he was not seeing it because he was not a Pokémon himself.
"Celebi" he said with courtesy, "Thanks for everything."
"You're welcome…" Celebi replied sadly, looking at Zerobi's downtrodden expression with sympathy. As the awkwardness was beginning to reach unbearable levels, Lucario felt that he had to do something about it.
"Hey hey, come on" he said while moving forward and boldly placing his hand on her shoulder, "Don't let it end like this. When did things get so awkward between us?"
"… Around the time that I almost killed you?" Zerobi replied slowly, looking at the hand on her shoulder and reliving the horrible moment.
"If this is how things are going to turn out, then you might as well have" Lucario said confidently before realizing what it sounded like outside his head, "... I mean, uh, from your perspective. Personally, I'm totally glad I didn't die."
"Lucario…" Zerobi said slowly while thinking back to their many moments together, "… I'm going to miss you. Is there really no way for you to stay?"
"Zerobi… I know you don't know me too well, but what do you expect from me?" Lucario asked in a calm manner, "I'm not a Pokémon, just a transformed man. Under regular circumstances, we wouldn't even understand each other, and that's the side of the fence I've always been on."
"… Heh" Zerobi snickered, deciding against pursuing her romance any further and instead make the best of their last few seconds together, "At the very least, I don't think I'll forget you."
"Ditto" Lucario replied cheerfully, happy to see his partner return to her former self, "Like I said, out of all these weirdoes… You're the best."
"Still, all of you…" Lucario said as he moved away from Zerobi and adjusted the backpack, "You're alright. Have good lives."
"… Just… Be careful!" Zerobi said, finally beginning to come to terms that this might be the last time she would see him, "If I hear that you were taken down five minutes after leaving…!"
"Ha ha ha!" Lucario laughed, "You take care of yourself, too." Lucario gave off a big smile before turning around, leaving his confident face as everyone's last impression.
"Pikablu! Viridian Forest!" Pikablu shouted at him, "Come around, we'll find something for you to eat that's not berries!"
"I'll get stronger, and we'll have a rematch!" Kabuta shouted as well, but felt too overcome by the moment to say what she really wanted to say, "Just… Come back, damn you!"
They watched Lucario as he left with the sun burning on his back, lighting up his yellow fur like a candle. Hearing everyone cheering for him made him feel good. When he heard them stop and start another conversation behind him, he felt the sudden urge to go back and join them. The idea of leaving them turned out to be much less strenuous to his rationality than actually doing it. But still he kept walking forward, knowing that turning around would only make it harder for all of them. Eventually he was able to erase all doubt from his mind by remembering what he really was, who he really was and why he was even there in the first place.
His newfound yet recently lost friends had already left his sight… But he knew that they would forever stay within his mind.
And so, his journey continued towards new horizons...