Where the Fires Began
Just like everyone else, she had never actually expected to get attached to him. She certainly hadn't planned on becoming protective. And the fierce, unwavering loyalty she had developed? No.
But it had happened.
As a Charmander, she preferred to think of herself as a free creature, untethered by things as foolish as emotions and as untamed as the fire that burned on her tail. Small things such as loyalty were reserved for creatures like the green-plant-dinosaur or the blue-brown-water-turtle with whom she shared the old-grey-professor-lab. A settled, quiet life was never the one for her: she had always felt the fire coursing through her veins, and she had no intentions of living out her days with the first idiot trainer to lay eyes on her.
That's pretty much what happened, though. The first boy to walk into the old-grey-professor-lab was the kind of kid with an idiotic-backwards-hat and tufts of black hair and a vest, of all things. But the most ridiculous thing about him to her was his name. Who in the blazes was cruel enough to name their kid Red
She had prayed to every deity she knew that he would not pick her.
The deities, apparently, opted not to listen. She sighed when she appeared in front of him and watched as the boy's eyes widened in uncharacteristic awe. Pathetic.
She noticed, though, as the whining-impossible-hair-boy, the one who had followed Red-dorky-hat into the lab, humphed proudly. And, as all trainers apparently did, whining-impossible-hair-boy promptly challenged Red-dorky-hat to a battle. The boy was quick to accept.
She tried to look nonchalant as the rival quickly sent out the blue-brown-water-turtle, but she was afraid inside.
"Fire Blast!" Red-dorky-hat commanded eagerly.
She blinked at him blankly.
The boy cursed under his breath and then said in a much more subdued sigh, "Scratch."
That much she could understand. Stumbling towards the blue-brown-water-turtle with claws outstretched, she prepared to rake their sharp points in bloody furrows down its pathetic little face. Growling, she whizzed closer.
Whiny-impossible-hair-boy didn't even blink, sighing as if asking , That's the best you can do?
He smiled grimly as he said, "Water Gun."
She didn't even have time to blink before the wave of water that somehow appeared in blue-brown-water-turtle's mouth hit her head on.
No fire of her power could hope to take that and remain standing.
And although every fiber of her being screamed for her to remain defiant, she plunged to the ground, whining-impossible-hair-boy's smirks ringing in her ears.
She woke up, cringing, to see Red-dorky-hat staring at her with concern. She would never know how he had protected her from his rival's sneers, or how he had bundled her up to safety and fled when the professor yelled at them for destroying his lawn. She looked at him warily, but he only sighed and then walked outside of the building, leaving a bewildered Charmander with no choice but to follow.
She found him lying on his back on the hill nearby, gazing at the stars above. Confused, she settled awkwardly done beside him, careful to keep her fiery tail out of the brittle grasses. She looked at him questioningly, but he only pointed at the stars.
Confused, she tried to grab for a clawful of the shining stuff in the sky, only to find it disappointingly out of reach. She heard him laugh under his breath and rounded on him angrily.
Quietly, in a voice much different than the one he used in battle, Red-trainer explained to her about the place in the skies where-fires-began and where all creatures went to rest. His voice drifted in and out of her dreams as she lulled herself to sleep.
They went into the forest as soon as first light came. His eyes fastened on an acid-green-worm-bug, and he was quick to try to catch it. She didn't like sharing attention, and was quick to*turn her back to Red-trainer, folding her arms across her chest and not even watching as the red-white-sphere clicked shut.
She felt a strange pit of jealousy as Red-trainer yelled in jubilation and then eagerly studied his newest capture, but that all vanished as he thanked her and patted her gently on the head with a smile.
They barged proudly into the halls of the rock-gym-building after that, and she watched as Red-trainer challenged squinty-eyes-man to a battle.
Squinty-eyes released a twisting-rock-snake without even blinking (not that anyone would ever know if he could even blink), and then declared the battle ready.
A very charred twisting-rock-snake soon lay at her feet, and the boy patted her on the head, a grin stretching across his face as he pocketed the blob of metal squinty-eyes had given him.
She roared in confusion, and then felt her body change. Blinding white light blotted out her vision, but when it faded, she was horrified to see that she was... ugly.
And a horrifying shade of crimson, just like Red-trainer's hat. But the boy just smiled proudly at her, in his own special way.
So much traveling followed after the boy saw what she could do.
There was the orange-hair-swimsuit-girl, commander of the dreaded waters. Her five-point-golden-star was no laughing matter, and Charmeleon had been forced to think on her feet, mimicking the purple-star-of-ten-points and dousing them all in a stream of silvery-golden-stars. Red-trainer was so proud of her when they won.
Loud-American-stereotype-electric-man was quick on the offensive. Enraged, she had been quick to avenge her comrade after the electric-rat hurt the purple-blue-butterfly-friend who had once been a mere caterpillar. Cinders of the gym blew around her when she was done, but Red-master was proud of her nevertheless.
Perfume-quiet-lady of the grass, with her irritatingly polite demeanor, was no match for their fire. In a shaken voice, perfume-lady politely gave them their metal blob and sent them on their way.
They had traveled then to the bicycle-slope road, where a group of ugly-smelling-thus had tried to hurt Red-trainer.*(She knew that it wasn't necessary to burn them like she did or reduce their bikes to a pile of molten metal, but it made her feel better.)
On the seaside cliffs of Fuschia, she watched in horror as Red-companion threw himself off of the rocky crags.
Roaring in surprise, she bolted off above the water after him, allowing the painful white light to overcome her once more and catching herself on newly found wings, flying above the waves to find him... resting safely on the back of his purple-blue-butterfly, whom he was teaching to Fly.
She had grabbed him in her claws then and vowed to never let him go.
She would look back on life and realize that she had done the very thing she had vowed to never do, but she no longer cared. She had decided long ago that she would sacrifice her one dreams to make his come true.
She had been so surprised, though, when Red-friend purchased a forever-stone for her to keep clenched tight in her talons so that they could stay together forever.
The teleporters at the psychic-woman's building had made her so dizzy, and the mustached-mind-player had screwed with her mind.*In return, she was sure to make them all burn, just for Red-friend.
They flew across the seas to the volcano, where she was proud to test her skills against the fires of mustache-burnheal-man. Apparently, she passed.
And just like that, they were off to the fighting-league. Red-friend had been perturbed to find the eighth gym-training-hall closed, but she thought nothing of it.
Neither of them had been expecting, though, to find that whining-impossible-hair-boy waited for them at the end of the last room, the Champion.
However, she felt no fear --just rage, after watching as the Champion-whining-boy felled her five companions, one by one-- as she faced the remaining members of his team.*
She easily torched the fire-dog, mustached-mind-bender, coconut-head-tree, flying-bird, and even the ridiculous rock-dinosaur. No problem.
But she could not help but be afraid when his tiny blue-brown-water-turtle, no longer so tiny, emerged as the Champion's sixth and final competitor.
She never forgot the pain the blue-brown-water-turtle had caused her, or how it had forced her to let Red-friend down. So for that, she despised it.
Her jaws opened, and a stream of silvery-golden-stars flew from her throat, swiftly wreaking havoc to the blue-brown-water-turtle.
On the whining-boy's orders, though, it was quick to open it's jaws and attempt to douse her flames with the horrible, dreaded waters.
She forced herself to keep fighting as the torrents buffeted her, for Red-friend's sake. No fire of her power should have had to endure such a deluge, but she would give her pain and more for Red-friend to be happy.
After all, the water was still just water. Against her fire, it stood no chance.
And when she unclenched her wings, roaring for vengeance, Red-friend knew she would fight until the end.
She allowed the flames to billow up from her maw, deep down In the place where the fires began. The lotus of flame bloomed in front of her and then blossomed into a five-petaled star of flaming glory, vaporizing the air and causing even the horrified blue-brown-water-turtle to bow before her in surrender.
And just like that, their quest, their rivalry, was done. She was content to live with Red as a star, eternally ensconced in the hall-of-fame.