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May took a deep breath and exhaled slowly; wispy clouds of vapor formed in front of her face and disappeared. The night was cold for the summer, possibly partly because she was fairly near the icy Champion Cave, and she hadn’t thought to put her coat on. Stupid.
She dropped the Pokéball she was holding on the ground and watched the bright, white light take the shape of her starter by her feet. Quilava shook herself, the spiky flames on her head and rear flaring up with a soft sound; when May said nothing, she looked up at her trainer in calm expectation.
“Right,” May said. She took another deep breath and hated herself for needing it. “So. I’ve decided that…”
She looked at the Pokémon, who watched her in silence; her flames burned peacefully and she could feel their warmth surrounding her freezing legs.
May cleared her throat. “I need a different Fire-type. One who is willing to put everything into this, and who has something more to offer than just fire. I’m getting a Torchic. I know where they are on the island.”
Quilava stood there, silent, unmoving; only her fire flickered and burned. It wasn’t as if May had expected her to be surprised, since they had talked about it and had really both known it would end like this ever since Quilava had made her will clear, but May had hoped – well, expected, at any rate – that the Pokémon would have some sort of a reaction to this. That she would say something. Maybe she just didn’t get it.
May knew well that Quilava was not that dumb, but she clarified it anyway: “So I don’t need you.”
It stung her to say it, after she’d spent so damned long looking for her; heck, Quilava was the only reason she was still in this region, as she would have returned to Johto had she not clung to the hope of finding Taylor again. It all seemed so stupid and pointless now – like she’d wasted the past months of her life. She’d always expected she would at least get the satisfaction of wrenching the Pokéball out of Taylor’s grip, and there he had handed it to her voluntarily, at his own discretion, leaving the entire build-up just a dull throb of disappointment in the back of her mind.
And now this. Her first Pokémon looked down at the ground and then back up at her, hesitating.
Her very first real Pokémon. The Cyndaquil she had pointed at when Professor Elm had given her the choice, just because she knew female starters were rare. Worst mistake of her life.
“Damn it,” she hissed under her breath. Her starter. Starters were supposed to end up as your most powerful Pokémon, the heart and soul of your team, the last Pokémon sent out at the end of the final battle to decide the winner of the League Championships. And here she was, with her level fifteen Quilava who didn’t want to evolve – useless. Wasted.
It hadn’t even been too late. May could have brought her to glory, made her that powerful starter, the eventual Champion’s top Pokémon. If only that – that stupid little Quilava hadn’t foolishly turned her back on it. That was her own fault. She didn’t know what she was missing.
But it was for the best anyway. Her team needed a Fighting-type. It had always needed a Fighting-type.
“There are wild Cyndaquil around here,” she said. “You’ll be happy with them. Maybe you’ll find a mate and have eggs and…”
She took a few more breaths to steady herself; she was starting to tremble with cold. More misty vapor formed and dissolved in front of her.
“…and, well, you’ll be much better off.”
Handing Quilava off for Taylor’s Charmander – something that could become a Charizard, a much cooler Pokémon. Why had she thrown the stupid ball away afterwards, anyway? It was a dumb thing to do, even if it was a lower-leveled Charmander. She could have trained it, evolved it and never looked back; Taylor could have released Quilava by himself. Everybody would have been happy.
“So goodbye, and have a nice life.”
And then switching the Pokéballs in Scorpio City so that Taylor would get Quilava again and Mark would have Charmeleon back – stupid Mark, who never should have gotten that Charmander in the first place, if she hadn’t thrown the stupid ball away. If she hadn’t switched, if she had gotten Quilava back then, perhaps things would have been different.
The Pokémon still said nothing. She stood still by May’s side and nudged her leg gently with the side of her head. The flames only tickled, warm and soft and comforting.
“Just… go away already,” she said, and her voice was breaking. “It’s cold.”
Quilava snuggled against her leg for a long second. “It’s okay,” the Pokémon said at last, softly, comfortingly, and lingered there for a moment with her flames burning brightly; then she extinguished her flames, looked briefly up at her trainer, and then scuttled off into the dark.
May looked after her until the shadows had swallowed her completely.
Stupid Quilava. She hated those things.
She shivered, the cold biting at her legs with renewed vigor now that the flames were gone, and walked hastily back towards the lights of the trainer lodges, fiddling with her nametag with freezing fingers.
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