The Quest for the Legends (ILCOE)
Chapter 53: Away
He caught up with May just as she was exiting the Pokémon Center; apparently she’d finished healing her Pokémon already in the time it took for him to get out. For some reason she was also holding both of their backpacks; she must have retrieved them at the trainer lodge in the meanytime.
“Let’s just go,” she said without greeting him or looking him in the eye, her voice quiet as she handed him his own bag. “I don’t want to be here when the reporters start looking for me.”
She was obviously upset; Mark wasn’t quite sure what to say to her and just followed behind her as she walked towards the outside gate, hurriedly flipping his nametag over to show his photo before they went through. The gatekeeper woman squinted at them as they passed; a television inside the guard booth was showing Taylor happily shaking hands with the very reluctant-looking Champion of the Old-Timers’ League.
“Hey,” the woman called after May, leaning out of the booth, but she quickened her pace without answering and Mark had to sprint to catch up with her.
“You did great, you know,” Mark tried as May showed no signs of being about to stop; they seemed to be heading towards the mountains where they usually trained.
“No, I didn’t,” May responded irritably without looking at him. “I screwed up with Skarmory. Roosting was a terrible idea when it was using a Fighting move, but I wasn’t thinking. And Feraligatr can’t even learn Haze. I shouldn’t have believed it until I saw it.”
Mark didn’t know quite how to respond to that. “Well…”
“But it’s not like it mattered anyway, because even if I’d done everything perfectly, Mewtwo² would still just have thrown Tyranitar around like a bloody bouncing ball and there’s nothing I could’ve done about it, so either way I never could have won.”
“I’m sure everybody out there thinks of you as the real Champion,” Mark said. “I mean, Taylor basically cheated. Everybody knows that.”
“If they think that, they’re wrong!” May said fiercely, turning around. “There is no second place in a knockout tournament. Any one of the trainers he beat could be better than me. The fact I happened to be the last one to battle him is meaningless, you understand? God, learn some basic math.”
She turned quickly around again and marched on; Mark hurried to keep up with her and quietly decided not to try to start another conversation.
May had stopped suddenly in a bit of an open area that Mark had guessed must be a spot she’d used sometime when they were training separately and announced they would camp there. He’d not felt like arguing.
Now, after they’d set up the tent, they were sitting around their campfire in silence. It was only the afternoon, but the approaching autumn was making the days get colder, and Mark was grateful for the fire. He’d rather be at the warm trainer lodge reading or drawing or watching TV, of course, but he couldn’t just leave May out here alone, and so he stayed, wondering restlessly if it would be horribly insensitive to send out his Pokémon to talk to them. (It probably would be.)
He looked at her. She was staring fixedly into the flames, curled up with her arms wrapped around her knees to keep warm. Her expression was empty and faraway, devoid of any particular discernible emotions, but she still obviously felt like crap. He wished he could help her, somehow; in the flickering firelight, she looked scared and vulnerable, and Mark felt a strange feeling rising in his chest, a longing to hold her and protect her.
He inched shyly closer to her, feeling himself blushing; she looked at him in vague surprise, and her eyes suddenly filled with tears.
Mark was startled; he’d never seen her cry before. “May... are you okay?” he asked carefully, laying a hand on her shoulder.
She reached out with her hands, grabbing his arms tightly to pull him closer. She looked into his eyes, her sapphire orbs shining like stars in an evening sky, and whispered, “Do you think I’m pretty?”
“What?” Mark asked, initially confused. “Of course you are.”
But as he looked at her, something dawned on him, slowly but surely. He noticed her sky-blue locks curling down her forehead; her finely defined eyebrows; her fair skin pale and perfect in the orange light; her full, rosy lips; and most importantly of all, she was May, somebody he’d travelled with for what felt like years now, who’d helped and guided him, been through thick and thin with him, even saved his life. Something stirred in his chest, putting a lump in his throat; he brushed a lock of her hair aside and murmured, “You’re beautiful.”
“Really?” Wisps of a smile crossed her lips as she closed her eyes, her long, feminine eyelashes drying her tears away as she leaned in closer.
Their lips met, and instantly, as if by the touch of a Suicune, everything became crystal clear. It felt so indescribably right. He embraced her tightly as the kiss deepened, their tongues meeting nervously for the first time. “I love you,” he breathed as they pulled away for a moment, everything swirling before his eyes. “I’ve always loved you. You don’t need to prove yourself to me by winning a League.”
She looked at him in surprise, blushing. “S-so you knew...” she whispered shyly.
“Deep down... I always knew.”
He planted another kiss on her forehead and held her close, one hand gently stroking her hair. They didn’t know how long they spent sitting there together, basking in one another’s glow; it seemed like a dream, or maybe a more real reality; the journey, the battles, the League all felt hazy and far away. There was only the here, the now, the two of them, together. Alone. Perfect.
“So you have found one another at last,” stated a soft telepathic voice. Mark opened his eyes slowly and saw the small, pink-furred form of Mew hovering before them.
“What do you mean?” he questioned.
“Didn’t you know that the opposite of destruction is love?” Mew smiled slyly. “Your efforts would never have stopped the War of the Legends before, but now, you may have a chance.”
“Really?” May gasped.
“Of course. Or hadn’t you realized that that was what went wrong before the last War of the Legends?” Mew shook her head heavily. “I was afraid the same would happen now. But you... you had the potential for something truly beautiful, a love that could destroy the Destroyer... forever.”
“So that was why you didn’t want to help prevent the War?” asked Chaletwo incredulously.
“At that time I thought there was no hope,” murmured Mew. “But everything is different now. If you don’t mind, I will come with you and aid you on your quest.”
“But then... it wasn’t because you hated me!” sobbed Chaletwo before he burst into telepathic tears.
“Of course not,” Mew said softly. “I have always loved you... my son.”
At that, a Pokéball at Mark’s belt popped open open and Chaletwo was released in a flood of light. Tears welled up in Mew’s sapphire eyes as she flew up to him, and they hugged tightly, for the first time in a thousand years. Mark watched their reunion with a lump in his throat, squeezing May’s shoulders a little. Finally Chaletwo could have peace.
“What’s going on here?”
They all looked up to see Taylor emerging from behind a rock, a smug expression etched on his face. “Haha, a bunch of lovebirds,” he mocked, pointing at the four of them and laughing snidely. “Losers.”
“You don’t know anything about love!” May declared with calm confidence. “Your heart has shrivelled into a lump of coal, unable to feel love or compassion. I feel sorry for you.”
“Yes,” agreed Mew. “She’s right. Open your heart to the love around you, and you might find peace at last.” There was a short pause before she added, “And Chaletwo is not my boyfriend.”
“Yeah, totally,” sneered Taylor and rolled his eyes.
Mark wanted to protest, but he was cut short by a curious feeling of elation as warmth seemed to spread all through his body. He looked at his hands to find they were bathed in a strange, pink glow; May was looking fearfully at her own, similarly glowing hands.
Something pure and primal within him simply knew that it was the essence of love itself.
He squeezed May’s hand tightly, and together, they both looked up at Taylor, heat building up within their bodies. The other boy gasped as a pink glow overtook his body, too; his eyes closed and his body was lifted a few inches off the ground, the glow pulsing like heartbeat. For a moment there was nothing but the steady throb of concentrated love synchronizing between the three of them; then, abruptly, the glow disappeared and Taylor tumbled to the ground, landing on his back.
“Oof,” he muttered, rubbing his head; then, as in realization, he slowly looked over at Mark and May with an expression of surprise.
“I... I can feel it,” he whispered. “I can feel... love...”
Mew smiled in satisfaction as Taylor beamed at them. “How can I thank you? You’ve brought me life and happiness at last. I will never forget it.”
“It’s okay,” stated May, smiling back at him. “As long as you’re sorry.”
“Oh, and my poor Pokémon!” Taylor gasped. “I must free them from those horrible balls.”
With that, Taylor sent out all of his clones and made Feraltwo stomp on all the Clone Balls so that they were destroyed. The clones all cried with happiness, especially Mewtwo².
“Why don’t I join you?” suggested Taylor. “I can help you take down the legendary Pokémon! It will be great!”
“Sure!” answered Mark and May in unison, and as the sun set, they were all laughing and telling stories together by the campfire, looking forward to the continuation of their adventures.
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