Disclaimer: The Lake of Rage takes absolutely no responsibility for any lost control of, neglect of, or overuse of feels that may or may not be indirectly linked to the following fan fiction. Viewer discretion is advised.
Naw, but really. This is just an excuse for some more HoennShipping mixed with another crap-load of angst (because can you expect anything less from anything that I write?). And it's not really that feels-y. ...Honest.
Actual disclaimer: I don't own Pokémon. Simple enough?
A storm was coming.
It didn't take a genius to figure it out. May had her first warning when an Absol darted through the tall grass in front of her, fur bristling and claws extended. So focused it seemed to be on its objective—whatever that was—that it didn't notice her until she stumbled back in shock at the sight of such a reclusive creature. It paused, but didn't attack as she'd half-expected it to; just offered her a sidelong glance, bayed softly in warning, then took off again, likely to find some other Trainer to inform.
May was no idiot—she was the Champion of Hoenn, after all. She read her Pokédex, and she knew that Absol only acted like that when a particularly monstrous natural disaster was brewing. Glancing around at the mountainous terrain that surrounded her, she quickly ruled out the thought of a tornado, and earthquakes were sparse this side of Mauville City. Not a thunderstorm, she knew, because the few clouds she could see were bright white or mild gray; none were the tell-tale dark shades of incoming rain. That left only one option: it was a sheet storm. She shivered at the thought. How many times had she spelunked through the mountains back in Johto? 100? 1,000? Yet she had only experienced one sheet storm before, and it was something she'd rather forget.
Yes, a storm was coming.
She glanced around at her team, starting at the Swellow landing on a precarious perch on her left. Her gaze travelled to the dark-furred Mightyena, growling Manectric, swaying Ludicolo, and unperturbed silver Metagross, each in turn. Finally, her gaze came to rest on the scarlet fire chicken by her side. Blaziken was also glancing worriedly around, constantly switching his gaze between his Master and the sky. He let out a low grumble of warning, displaying his uneasiness in the most stoic way possible. 'Typical.' May grinned despite herself.
"Alright, guys," she trilled, catching her team's attention. Adjusting her bag and tightening the cherry-red bow in her hair, she saw them all gather closer, listening raptly. "We'd better head back. Keegan, are we close enough to Fallarbor?" Keegan, her Swellow, was tasked with remembering approximately where they were when she went exploring like this. If she managed to reach the small town before the storm hit, Professor Cozmo would likely offer her refuge in his lab. Seeing the navy-and-pink crow shake his head, she frowned. "What about Lavaridge?" Another negative.
Glancing towards the direction of Mt. Chimney, she let out a long, low whistle. Only now could she glimpse the distant darkness of heavily-burdened clouds brewing. Sure enough, there would be no time to get to Fallarbor, nor to Lavaridge—both towns would soon be consumed by the storm. Glancing over her shoulder, she realized that her closest haven was the ash-white of Meteor Falls, which was a little farther away but at least in the opposite direction.
"Well, that settles it," she declared enthusiastically, excited at the prospect of a trip through the beautiful scenery she knew lay there. "We'll take the Meteor Falls path to Rustboro. Get ready to run, everybody!"
Swellow cooed lightly in concern, bending down to offer her a ride, but she waved him off with a laugh. "Don't worry, Keegan. We have time. Besides, if I weigh you down, we might not be able to outrun the storm." Experience warned her that sheet storms had the tendency to roll in quickly, enveloping the entire mountain range before the Trainers therein could react. She was lucky that an Absol had come to warn her.
Bending backwards, May stretched her back contentedly, eliciting a satisfying crack, then crouched into a running stance. Around her, her team also got ready to match pace. May was an incredibly fast human, but even slow Pokémon tended to be quicker than her. Still, that didn't mean they could slack off if she meant to sprint, especially since she was one to just scale anything in her way.
"On your mark!" she called in a jokingly deep voice. Rolling their eyes, her team ambled up to her side and poised themselves. May just grinned good-naturedly. "Get set!" she chirped. "Ready..."
Keegan took wing, hovering quietly overhead.
Blaziken, her closest partner, lingered just behind her protectively, instinct niggling at the base of his crest and telling him that this was a bad idea.
She was off like a bullet the second the word left her mouth, her feet pounding on the stone beneath them loud enough to emulate a gunshot. Her team followed her lead, chasing after her as she darted through tall grass and hurtled over ledges, nimble and quick and impossible to keep up with unless you knew her mannerisms perfectly. Her parkour was effective but erratic, and only her sufficiently well-informed and quick team could hope not to get left behind. After all, May wasn't the type to allow anything to stand in her way. Not even the scenery itself.
A breathless little laugh bubbled up from her chest as she darted through the wind, breezes turning into gales that whistled restlessly in her ears. There was a reason that she loved to be out with her Pokémon: it allowed her to run at full speeds without having to worry about leaving her companions behind. She loved that feeling—the feeling of freedom under her feet and the feeling of her hair and clothes whirling out behind her, giving her a streamlined appearance.
Slowly but surely, May forgot all her worries; even that of the storm brewing behind them, soon to be overhead. Her only focus was on the growing expanse of ash white that was beginning to spread out in front of her. Her destination was drawing steadily nearer, a glimmer of hope in the droll atmosphere that the looming clouds created.
Her Mightyena, lovingly referred to as "Piper", was the first to see it, and she let out a bark of horror, but it was too late.
Halfway through her deft clamber up a craggy outcropping of rock, May's heel struck hard against a patch of cobblestone that sprang to life under her shoes, jumping to its feet. A Golem snarled at her, ready to defend itself, but it was too late; her balance was cruelly torn away from her and a yelp was torn roughly from her lips as she tumbled over. An elating moment of weightlessness swirled in her stomach—then said stomach flipped as she somersaulted towards the ground.
She had only an instant to prepare herself for impact. Throwing up her arms to protect her head was all she managed to do, and even that did little to help her. Her foot struck first and her entire leg bent backwards with a resounding crack that tore a howl from her lips. Her other leg hit somewhat softer, but bolts of pain still ran through it. Finally, her back and shoulder collided with the stone and her neck snapped back, forcing her forearms to slam against the back of her skull. Better than stone, but still enough to send her vision swimming and tilting, disorienting her. Soon thereafter, she recognized the bolts of dull pain that marked a dislocated shoulder, her limb having been thrown out of socket upon impact.
For a moment, May just lay there, shell-shocked, almost not believing the bolts of pain and confusion and oh, Arceus, her leg was broken.
The storm was still coming.
Her Pokémon were by her side in an instant, scurrying to her aid. She gasped, her breathing suddenly heavy and painful, as adrenalin and pain clashed for dominance in the pit of her unsettled stomach, giving her the strong urge to retch. Only now realizing what it'd done, the Golem growled softly in some sort of apology, but refrained from drawing near when Blaziken placed himself in front of her protectively. Rolling its eyes—'Bah. Trained Pokémon are such lapdogs.'—it waddled off to take shelter from the approaching storm.
When May forced her eyes open, gritting her teeth against the pain pain pain, she was already surrounded by her team, and all she could hear were the sharp cries of Blaziken as it tried to rouse her. Any instant now, she was bound to run out of power; at the moment, the only thing keeping her from passing out was sheer adrenalin. She knew that. She also knew that passing out with the concussion she undoubtedly had was bad enough. But, of course, the sheet storm didn't help. Her Pokémon wouldn't be able to carry her back unconscious or wounded, much less both—at least, not before the storm overtook them.
There was no time to dwell on the pain. No time, no time, no time. Her team. Her team.
Reaching for her belt, she hissed out, "Everyone. Return." Her command was met with roars of protest, but all were dutifully ignored as she managed to press the buttons on the red-and-gray capsules that hung innocently at her waist, confining her friends to their individual homes.
The flashes of light as her partners disappeared was her only solace.
May was no idiot. She knew that the only one who could maybe make it through a sheet storm relatively unharmed was Steven, her appropriately-named Metagross. And, as it just so happened, he was also rather undertrained and would have a rough time carrying her through this landscape, and during a natural disaster, no less. There was always a chance that they might die if she let them stay out, and even that minuscule of a chance was one that she was not willing to take.
At fifteen years old, May would risk even her own life for her Pokémon.
Groaning in the agony that sent tremors through her bones, May struggled to right herself as much as she could. Another cry of pain exited her as she jostled her broken leg and her eyes squeezed shut, a few tears coming loose. They traced zigzags down her trembling cheeks as her Pokéballs began to vibrate as well. 'Crap.' If her team was fighting to get out and help her, she might have only a few minutes before they achieved their goal. Ten minutes at best.
Above her head, lightning flashed, followed closely by a rumble of thunder. A fat, freezing raindrop impacted with her bare knee, eliciting a wince from the Champion. Stumbling forwards a few shaky steps, she clutched tightly to her shoulder, trying to ignore the pain that radiated from it like body heat. Her need for shelter was too desperate to worry about relocating it. Still, it was hard to ignore the agony that laced through her muscles every time it swayed supportlessly from it vacant socket.
Thunder screamed overhead like an angered Gyarados, but the lightning was so savage that no Gyarados would be braving the skies tonight unless it wanted to become instant sushi. May moaned quietly as the sound drew forth an unintentional jump, jolting her mangled excuse for a leg. Another raindrop hit her; then another; then two at once. The sky was suddenly overtaken by a trumpet of thunder as it let down a deluge of frigid droplets, almost instantly drenching the wounded Trainer. In a matter of seconds, hail had joined the mix, starting as tiny orbs that pinged against the stone around her but quickly escalating into progressively larger chunks.
The storm was coming on fast, and it was out for the kill.
A particularly large piece of ice slammed into her bad leg and a strangled scream clawed its way up from her lungs to her mouth. 'Crap crap crap, this is bad.' Clenching her teeth against the pain, May hobbled forward painstakingly, her limbs uncooperative and trembling. Still, the bright white stone of Meteor Falls stood out among the slate-gray and scarlet-brown of her terrain, standing as her motivation to keep moving. Forcing herself forward was becoming harder and harder.
Now drenched with slivers of ice sticking in her hair, May began to shiver, her teeth clattering slightly. This only served to further impede her progress, leaving her limbs more unresponsive than ever. Still, the numbness was welcome, if only because her adrenalin was beginning to wear off and the sheer disrepair of her wounded leg was becoming more blatant by the second.
May was lucky (lucky, ha). By some miracle, she managed to reach her destination before hypothermia took full hold of her or the famous jagged icicles that gave sheet storms their name began to fall. Still, even as the ash-white stone flashed victoriously in her vision, a beacon of hope, she could feel herself slipping away. Her limbs were stiff and she'd stopped shivering long enough ago to make her worry. Or, at least, she would worry if she could—her head felt stuffed with cotton, so she was finding it difficult to care about much besides sleep sleep for Arceus' sake I need sleep.
She barely made it into the first cave she came across in the Falls, mottled with caverns as they were. Mewling in the pure, unadulterated agony that coursed through her, she was too far gone to identify the suddenly violent shaking of her belt just before her Pokéballs burst open and her team burst out.
Immediately, she could feel the luxurious, silky fur of Piper slide across her hand, getting her attention. Glancing down at the gray-and-black dog, May choked out a single laugh, more like a cough than anything, and allowed a humorless smile to bend her mouth away from its grimace. "You shou'n't 've c'me ou'," she admonished softly. Gone was the fierce, confident tone of her voice. Although she spoke in a natural cadence, as if each sentence was pre-written as a poem, even she was not immune to the throes of exhaustion, apparently, because this May slurred worse than a drunk with no teeth. "Wha'if we'd b'n ou'si'e?" Piper simply bayed in worry and slight annoyance.
May soon became aware of the building heat behind her. As her chilled body began to suck in as much warmth as it could, she convulsively jerked backwards, feeling her back collide with something downy and warm.
It said a lot about her current state that May didn't try to hide her motives. Unabashed, she leaned into the heat, only now realizing that she was freezing. Her mouth-bend that could hardly be called a smile quickly morphed into a true beam, albeit a sorry shadow of her usual grin, and she barely managed with her uncooperative tongue to mumble a garbled "Tor."
Blaziken let out a snarl that might have been intimidating if it wasn't so overrun with poorly-concealed concern. As Steven and her Manetric, Eliot, offered a few baffled mutters, the other four members of her team exchanged worried glances. May had called Blaziken "Tor" before he evolved the first time, but she hadn't since he became a Combusken. How out of it would she have to be to fall back into such old habits? Not one of the four was willing to guess.
As May clung to her closest companion, lost in the sudden realization that she was cold enough for Blaziken's usually pleasant warmth to hurt, her team began a mix of uncontrolled fretting and speedy strategic planning. Her leg was completely busted—it was a miracle she'd made it this far, and how on Earth she'd managed it remained unseen—so one of them would have to carry her. Steven's frigid steel body was right out, as was Manetric's static-filled fur, and Ludicolo's constant swaying would make easy travel difficult. She was hardly in a state to hold on to a flying steed (maybe a dragon, because they flew steady, but not a bird), and Blaziken, although warm, would also have a hard time not jostling her wounded limb.
Blinking her bright red eyes, Piper glanced around the group. Everyone but May herself was staring at the Mightyena, silently urging her to rise to the occasion. Although stressful, it pumped burning motivation through her veins so vigorously that she was surprised her fur didn't singe. Right now, her Master's life was resting on her shoulders.
Piper wordlessly accepted May's dead weight along with her life as Blaziken gently draped the teen over her back.
Stirring as she was moved, May shifted her weight and almost slid right off of Piper's back. Instinctively, her good arm jerked up with a small burst of adrenaline and wound around the closest thing it could find—Piper's neck. Yipping lightly in encouragement, said hyena gently nudged her back into place so that she sat astride a soft gray back, her bad arm and bad leg both dangling uselessly but her two viable limbs picking up their slack.
As Blaziken worked on getting May situated, Piper gently grasped the girl's signature red bow in her teeth and pulled it loose, tossing it into the air. Keegan caught it around his neck, then quickly sped off down the cavern without another word, Manetric hot on his heels. Steven marched into the storm with a low rumble to look in neighboring caves. As relieved as they were that their Master was still kicking (with one leg, at least), none of the Pokémon were stupid; she almost definitely had hypothermia, her leg was practically demolished, and she likely had a concussion. With no healers among them—something they planned to rectify as soon as this was over—they had no way of helping her.
They needed another human.
May subconsciously tightened her grip when Piper eased into a slow amble, gritting her teeth against the pain which was quickly returning to the forefront of her mind. She wasn't really aware of much, but that was okay. Because she trusted Tor and Tor said hold. So she pulled her arm taut and wrapped her leg around and waded through the pain, content with the knowledge that Tor knew what he was doing.
It was a painstaking process, but Piper gained more and more speed the more she chugged onward, finally evening out just short of a steady jog. Master was tough, Master was strong, but Master was human, and the loping gait of a Mightyena's run wouldn't do Master's leg any favors.
May's awareness fluctuated almost violently, yanking her out of reality one second then plunging her back in the next. Every so often, her head would begin to loll, her furrowed brows relaxing—then the tension would snap back in an instant and she'd go rigid until Blaziken's soft prod put her to ease.
Glancing down at his Master's PokéNav, Blaziken almost snorted. It was nearing two in the afternoon. Had it really been only 1:00 when they were under clear skies, watching in surprise as an Absol darted through the tall grass? Had it really been only 1:30 when they began to plod along, the only noise being the soft patter of rain overhead and the softer patter of paws on stone? Because it was 1:40 now, and at least a few eternities had come and gone.
Oh, what a to-do: to die today at a minute or two to 2:00;
A thing distinctly hard to say and harder yet to do.
A distant cry echoed hollowly along the cave.
Piper and Blaziken both snapped to attention, but May paid it no mind, still weakly clutching a handful of gray and black. She buried her face into the warm pelt underneath it with a moan when Piper began to speed up. Before, the Mightyena been too worried to go faster then a light trot. Now, help was in sight; there was a definitive light at the end of the tunnel.
Now, all bets were off.
The rapid padding of heavy paws was a steady tattoo that rang in May's skull. Detonation of at least one Voltorb right next to her brain quickly followed, giving her a truly impressive headache. Still, she was somehow mesmerized by the beat, her ears perking up to better pick up the sound.
We'll beat a tattoo at twenty to 2:00;
A rat-tat-tat, tat-tat-tat, tat-tat-tattoo.
This time, she jumped slightly at the sound, and she didn't have the energy left to cry out when her leg banged against Piper's side. Huh. What on Earth could that be? The last thing she remembered, there had been nothing but the pat pat patof the thrum underneath her and another, more faint rhythm of tha-thump, tha-thump, tha-thump. Since when had this strange noise joined the mix?
Piper sped up more still, but May was drifting, no longer aware of the pain or the cave or Piper or Tor; only aware of pat and tha-thump and, now, a soft whoosh and steady hmmm. What could be causing that flutter? Where before had she heard that hum? Both were quick, frantic, and all-too-familiar, nagging at the back of her mind with a yelled 'You've heard this before!'
The shout was close; too close; impossibly close. Startled, May only renewed her death grip. What was going on? She didn't know. She knew the warmth underneath her and the cold all around her and the pat and tha-thump and whoosh and hmmmm.
Then there was the unmistakable clack! of talons making a rough, hasty collision with a solid surface, and the humming stopped, replaced by a soft growl of worry that brought up faint memories of green and scales and wings and flight.
And the dragon will come when he hears the drum
At a minute or two to 2:00 today;
At a minute or two to 2:00.
Voices (one voice?) were swimming around her, lilting back and forth as if their owners were drawing close only to pull back over and over again. She heard lots of "May!" and lots of "Arceus," and lots of "okay".
"Are you okay?" and "Stay with me, okay?" and "It'll be okay." and "Arceus, please be okay..."
Vaguely, she was aware of warm hands gently hefting her up and away from the furry mass under her and, for a moment, she began to panic (because she trusted Tor, and Tor said hold). That was quickly overrun by pain, however, as the hands tried to pull her aside too fast and her bad leg caught on Piper.
And she'd thought that she didn't have the energy left to scream.
The voice said "Arceus!" again and was suddenly sort of thin and panicked, perfectly mirroring her own emotions. Tor said hold and she wasn't holding; she was allowing this stranger to pry her away. What if that was important? What if it was dangerous for her to let go? What if she had put Tor in danger? He was just a chick, barely out of the egg; he couldn't die yet!
Smell was what jogged her memory. All it took was one simple inhale for the pure nostalgia to fill her lungs. The aroma of freshly cut wood and the similar scent of flourishing evergreens, all tied together with the slightest whiff of freshly-Cut tall grass.
What she meant to say was "What are you doing here? Where's Tor? Is he okay?"
What she said was "Brendan."
He was responding, but she couldn't hear. She could just hear tha-thump and tha-thump and tha-thump. Brendan. Brendan was here. Gathering all of her willpower left over from the arduous journey, May forced her eyelids open and didn't blink against the bright light reflecting off of crystals and clear water everywhere, because she was too busy looking at some random Flygon.
—and that random Flygon was right beside him, and so there she was, staring blankly up at blue eyes and brown hair and a white knit hat.
"May, are you alright?"
Brendan seemed to notice that she was practically catatonic, her eyes empty and distant, because he hastily brought her to his Flygon and tried to place her on the green dragon's back. As soon as she comprehended his plan, however, she began clinging to him like a lifeline because she trusts Tor and Tor says hold.
"May, I'm just trying to help you. This is Flygon; d'you remember?"
Yes? No? Sort of.
"She can get you to a Center so you can get help, but you have to let go of me and hold onto her."
Hold onto her, not him? The concept almost seemed radical. Still, although it hadn't occurred to her until just now, Tor hadn't really said who she was supposed to hold, exactly. Besides, Flygon
seemed nice enough, and she had picked up just enough of Brendan's smell to put her at ease. So May clambered onto Flygon's back with Brendan's help and the three were off, a flash of navy and pink that she felt like she should really know following suit.
Something deep inside her whispered that it was a good thing once she started shaking again. She wondered why.
They reached the Center in record time, but Flygon (Connie?) was careful to keep herself as steady as possible, and May's leg evaded further inflammation. Brendan was screaming for a doctor before the humming from Flygonnie's wings had subsided, already starting to haul May off of the dragon's back. His feet his the ground with May cradled in his arms and she didn't complain about the jolt in her leg.
Doctors were swarming her, but she trusted Tor, and Tor said hold, so she held. Either laughing or sobbing or possibly both, Brendan said "It's okay; they're just doctors; you can go with them," and, despite herself, May felt much, much better about finally yielding her grip.
As the doctors pulled and yelled and dragged, she heard a whispered "May..." and looked back over her dislocated shoulder at a blurry figure who'd been Brendan a minute ago. He sucked in a deep breath and she was pretty sure he was smiling, although the gesture was lost on her pitching vision. "It'll be okay," he reassured, although he didn't sound very convincing at all, so it was hardly any consolation.
And Arceus help her if she felt herself relax before offering a watery smile and promptly passing out.
She knew that everything would be just fine.
Because she trusted Brendan, and Brendan said okay.
Told you it was just an excuse for some angst and HoennShipping. You were warned! You can't claim that you weren't warned!