Rating: K+ for violence associated with pokémon battling.

Author's Notes: It wouldn't be January 31st at 11:00 PM without me scrambling to upload something, now would it? I've had this idea rattling around in my head for a while now; hope you enjoy!


One day a charizard came to the mountain.

She didn't come in fast or low like she was making an attack but landed some way below the peak. Her long climb up was followed by many curious eyes, watchers peering from scrubby bushes or patches of rock-shade. Some watchers fled, the ones who were only wild, with none to protect them but themselves. But soon all the little streams and rivulets, icy glacier-melt tumbling down from above, were crowded with people jostling for a view of the old dragon.

And she was old, her huge wings traced with shadowy scars, scales grown thick and tough and teeth grayed by centuries of smoke. She wore a metal band around her neck, set with a glinting stone. A human-made thing, but there was no human with her.

None tried to stop her as she made her slow, patient way up. They only watched.

The mountain's peak was glacier-capped, and below it was a pool, perfectly clear down to its bottom, which made it appear much shallower than it was. Meltwater cascaded down from above, and though there were marks of pokémon here, wallows and muddy slides all around the pool's edge, the crashing water was the only sound. Charizard walked straight ahead, rocks clacking and shifting under her claws, until water lapped at her feet. Then she stopped, right at the edge of the pool, and stretched her wings up over her head.

"So are you going to ignore me, then?" she called across the water. "It's no good trying to hide."

One of the boulders sat up. It was not a quick or simple process, dirt and stones tumbling from the edges of an immense shell, tree-trunk limbs levering an immense blastoise off the ground. She turned slowly to face Charizard, clicks sounding from deep within her shell as the armor ground back from her cannons, their metal tips gleaming dully in the sun. Blastoise never stopped growing, and while once Charizard had been taller than this one, now it was Blastoise who towered, her hands alone so broad she could probably crush Charizard's skull one-handed. Her shell and hide were crusted with sand, pebbles, twigs, mud from the wallow she'd been lying in.

"Some nerve to show up after all this time," Blastoise rumbled in a grinding-ice voice.

Charizard lashed her fiery tail, leaving a faint, sinuous plume of smoke behind. "I've been busy. You know that."

"Oh, I've heard, I've heard." Blastoise studied Charizard from beneath thick brow-ridges, face stern and hard-edged. "Have you grown tired of your training, then? Or have you simply discarded whatever human was so rash as to think they could tame you?"

Charizard huffed out a contemptuous burst of flame. "The first. There's nothing more that humans can teach me. Perhaps someday another trainer will prove themselves worthy of my attention. But I doubt it."

Blastoise rumbled to herself. "I suppose you'll be wanting a battle. I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. It's been centuries since I had time for that nonsense."

Charizard grinned a toothy, foot-long smile. "Humor an old woman."

Blastoise grunted, and with a glacial shifting of limbs and shell rose to her hind legs, cannons lurching up to point at the sky. Watchers in the bushes went into a frenzy of whispering, drawing together so tight that shell clacked against shell and wagging tails swatted each other aside. Runners were dispatched to find what few hadn't already come to see the spectacle of the charizard, and the rest shoved and scuffled for the best spots.

If Blastoise or Charizard noticed the commotion, they gave no sign. "Don't you ever tire of winning?" Blastoise grumbled, and Charizard smiled again and rose into the air.

They fought the most when they were youngest, nothing like real battles, tumbling over each other, scratching, yelling, biting. No winner or loser, just scuffling until pried apart by some long-suffering aide.

"I can tell you two are going to make a couple trainers very happy someday," a weary machoke once told them, holding them apart at arm's length. Charmander hissed at Squirtle across the gap. They weren't even thinking of trainers then, fighting for no one but themselves.

Nothing so crude now, no need for teeth or claws. Blastoise tracked Charizard's movement overhead, then let loose a double cannon-blast with a report so deep it sent cracks spidering up the side of the glacier. Charizard dipped a wing and slid out of the way. She didn't even bother with fire, the air around her humming while she gathered searing yellow light between her claws.

The watchers shrieked and jumped in terrified delight as the solar beam touches down, digging a deep smoking furrow across the rocks and then up and over Blastoise. The water-type had tucked her limbs in tight, though, and all the attack did was leave a blackened streak across her shell.

The day had to come eventually, when all the humans were herded into one side of a room and all the pokémon into the other. Charmander and Squirtle stood and growled at each other, a last challenge, before dashing out into the crowd of humans, small feet plapping against the tiles.

Squirtle made right for the professor's son. It was no secret she was a favorite of his, and almost sure to have his agreement. Charmander growled to herself and tried not to be jealous. There had to be better trainers here anyway. She wove between humans and their new partners, tail scattering embers that made the more timid trainers flinch away. None of them for Charmander, nor the ones making doe-eyes at some bulbasaur or squirtle who would obviously never amount to anything. Charmander shoved through, rejecting one after the other with no more than a brief glance, and tried not to notice how the number of children dwindled around her.

She almost didn't see him, up against one wall, and what might her life have been like if she hadn't? But there he was, and Charmander recognized him as the boy who tagged around after the professor's son, antagonizing him as much as she antagonized Squirtle. Charmander veered his way, suddenly inspired. Here was a human she knew had guts.

The boy was kneeling in front of a bulbasaur, stroking his glossy bud, but Charmander stormed over and set the grass-type fleeing, tears in his eyes, with just a single swipe of claws.

The human watched his potential partner run off, arms draped over his knees. "That was mean," he said, not angry but flat, just an observation. Charmander stood and fumed in front of him, growling, tail blazing.

"You can't go with any of the other people," the human mused. "You'd eat them alive, wouldn't you?" Charmander hissed, and the boy smiled back. "Want to come with me?"

That was the first day that she fought, really fought, and so the first day that she won. And she was gratified to find that the boy lived up to all her expectations and more.

Charizard slipped around to the far side of the glacier, and when Blastoise reemerged from her shell her opponent was nowhere to be seen. She didn't seem bothered, though, simply sat back with eyes half-closed, gathering strength. Charizard built herself up, too, swooping and looping in a chaotic dance, keeping always out of sight.

She was forced to make the first approach, when it became clear that Blastoise had no intention of doing anything but sitting and waiting for her. Charizard came sweeping back around the peak, preceded by a solar beam, and Blastoise raised a lazy hand. The water in the pool rose with it and lunged at Charizard, clenching like a fist.

Charizard dodged again, effortlessly, the slightest angling of her wings enough to let her slip past unharmed. The wall of water crashed closed behind her with a roar and a cascade of rainbow-hazed droplets. Charizard prepared another solar beam, and this time when she released it, Blastoise didn't have time to withdraw. Searing energy cut across her hide rather than the armor of her shell.

They went on separate adventures, then, but no surprise that their paths crossed. They were proud, and their trainers were proud, and after all they pursued the same goal. Charmander and Squirtle, Charmeleon and Wartortle, Charizard and Blastoise—they didn't always fight each other; sometimes their trainers sent them against other, lesser pokémon. But they made no secret of who they really wanted to fight, and their trainers indulged them often enough. They felt it, too: the clash between their oldest companions was somehow different, more true than battling with any others.

The pokémon grew in strength, and the trainers grew in cunning, and all of them grew—older, wiser, found new equilibrium. They didn't fight every time—they could sit together, and laugh together, and battle, even, side by side. And they did. But they knew it would come to a fight in the end, for the title, for immortality. And so Charizard was not surprised when her trainer came to her with a conspiratorial smile and a proposition, and they began a treasure hunt.

The thud of Blastoise's cannons reverberated across the water as she blasted volley after volley at Charizard, and the dragon dodged them all. Charizard sent solar beams raking back, and Blastoise deflected most of them, whether from her shell or from a flashing protect attack, but she couldn't block them all. What solar beams hit she bore impassively, ignoring the raised red streaks they scored into her skin. Her audience gasped and tittered and finally broke into cheers when a burst of water hit home, knocking Charizard into a sideways tumble. Blastoise followed immediately with an even more furious round of cannon blasts, but Charizard slipped away as swiftly as though she'd never been hit.

It had been no surprise to find Blastoise in the champion's chamber, her trainer at her side and grinning ear to ear. They'd been first since the very beginning, always one step ahead. It wasn't that Charizard's trainer was weak, sluggish or stumbling. He just wasn't that concerned with being first. After all, there was no point rushing to claim something you wouldn't be able to hold.

So it had been no surprise to find that Blastoise's trainer was already champion, just as it had been no surprise that he laughed when they showed him their secret weapon. "Ha!" he'd said once Charizard was finished changing, spreading long, narrow wings and radiating furnace-heat. "Mega evolution. I guess they're giving out key stones to anyone with a pulse nowadays. Doesn't matter. Blastoise! Let's show them our strength!"

Charizard's heart had raced when Blastoise, too, was wrapped in swirling energy and emerged with an exhilarated roar, the bore of one huge cannon aimed straight at Charizard's chest. Charizard launched herself forward on new wings and the giddy high of energy singing through her veins. What good was victory without challenge? And it would be a victory, one that was being written into his mere moments after it happened. Victory for Charizard and for her trainer, the greatest team to ever be. Legends.

It was a disappointment, then, this farce of a battle. Blastoise kept Charizard back, plenty of water at her disposal, but seemed unable to press her further. Charizard got an attack in here, another there, and little by little that would do it. Even knowing they couldn't fight at full strength, even though, yes, it had no doubt been ages since Blastoise had battled anything at all, Charizard had been hoping for more. This had been one of the fiercest pokémon in all of Kanto, in all the world, and now... Charizard tried not to dwell on it, jinked past another tree trunk-thick hydro pump, and prepared another counterattack.

Blastoise shuddered when the solar beam struck, rumbled a rolling growl, and shrouded herself in dense mist.

The championship had been, perhaps, too great a victory. It was a blow even to Blastoise's trainer's indomitable ego, and he withdrew to the lesser position of Gym Leader, which he'd never sought nor wanted. Blastoise went with him, of course, to share in his mourning. That left Charizard and her trainer alone, with nowhere left to climb, no greater opponent awaiting them. They trained, and trained, with neither goal nor companion in its pursuit, and it was lonely on the mountain of their achievement. Lonely, and cold.

Charizard snorted, circling just outside the roiling dark haze. What was the point? The mist concealed Blastoise's movements, but she was so huge that even if she moved Charizard was bound to hit her firing blindly into the cloud. Blastoise couldn't see out, so as long as Charizard stayed mobile, there was no danger of her getting hurt.

No sounds from within the haze. Perhaps Blastoise was simply recovering, hoping Charizard would be confused enough to give her a bit of time. Charizard snorted. Blow the cloud away? Why bother? She threw another solar beam into the haze and was rewarded by a grunt of pain.

They had spent a long time in lonely training. They'd spent so much time, actually, that Charizard hadn't even realized how long it had been until Blastoise showed up and was, impossibly, not a child anymore.

She hadn't been training, not the way Charizard had. Her trainer's gym position kept his team in practice, but they'd faced lesser opponents while Charizard strove for perfection atop Johto's most unforgiving mountain.

Somehow that was the closest battle of them all. Charizard almost lost. Almost. Even now she doesn't know how that was possible, given the difference in their skill. Maybe, for once, proud Charizard and her trainer hadn't truly wanted to win.

Another solar beam, another hit. The haze thinned, burned off by solar energy, dispersing on mountain breezes. Now and again a snatch of Blastoise became visible: an arm, a cannon, the smooth, broad dome of shell.

Something was wrong. Blastoise's shell glittered, had none of its usually waxy sheen. Charizard only caught a glimpse, but she nosed a little closer, searching the fading haze while sunlight glowed through her claws.

Something cracked down below, a sharp report like a boulder snapping. Charizard looked down and saw ice clouding the pool's surface, sublimating in gentle white wisps. She beat her wings once, by instinct flying higher, up and away from unknown danger.

A powerful cross-breeze caught her and blew her sideways. It came laced with dancing snowflakes, ice crystals abrading her scales and tearing long rents in her wing-membranes. Blizzard winds slammed Charizard against the side of the glacier, freezing ice at her back, freezing air against her stomach, twin walls of ice trying to snuff her flame between them.

The haze had never been meant to hide where Blastoise was, only what she was doing. With the mist ripped away by the blizzard's gale Charizard could see the icicles growing from the rims of Blastoise's cannons, the frost clouding her scales, the snow drifting across the rocks at her feet. She'd been preparing.

Charizard snarled and pushed against the side of the glacier, hole-ridden wings straining against the slackening blizzard. But Blastoise clenched her fists, shifted on massive feet, and the glacier creaked, cracked, chunks calving with a horrid, grating rumble. The front of the glacier tore away and toppled down in chunks, Charizard trapped beneath the falling ice.

The pool's frozen surface broke her fall, but only for a second. Then the main mass of the glacier came roaring down, ice splintering against ice and spraying razor shards in all directions. The ice beneath Charizard gave way, dumping her into freezing water.

It had almost been like they were journeying again, together, their old rivalry forgotten. Their trainers were legends, and wherever they chose to go, the way would open for them. They left Kanto for somewhere warmer, somewhere far away from the championship and the once-more shuttered gym. The teams trained together instead of clashing, competing. Sometimes, though, they had it out. A proper fight. And Blastoise and Charizard fought each other then; there was no pitting them against anyone but their counterpart.

But their trainers were legends, and no small island chain could hold them. They weren't ready for retirement, those two, for picking off the odd challenger and enjoying island sunsets. They were legends, and they were called to legendary tasks. And why not? They'd unlocked mega evolution—and they'd done it independently, each managing a task that for any ordinary person would be the achievement of a lifetime. The world held many more legends, even greater deeds. What force could stand against the two of them united?

Charizard gasped in awful, frigid water and convulsed with panic. Her flame glowed somewhere below, wreathed in frothing bubbles; her wings, soggy and useless underwater, wrapped and tangled her. More ice thundered down from above, forcing her deeper. She forgot Blastoise entirely in her need for air, didn't even notice the surge that buffeted her sideways as something huge entered the water. She didn't think of Blastoise at all until the water came alive around her, strange currents dragging at her tangled wings.

Charizard pulled away, straining limbs clumsy underwater, but a huge hand reached up from below, seized tight and dragged, thick claws leaving ribbons of blood hanging in the water where they pierced flesh. Blastoise dragged down, and down, until she could wrap her arms around Charizard. The dragon twisted and struggled, a line of whipping, gleaming flame encircled by the dark. Claws and teeth rebounded from Blastoise's armored skin. Charizard's tail-flame flickered, sending lazy bubbles slipping upwards. She thought she felt a spark, a flare of energy at her throat, something woken in the gemstone on her collar.

It was nothing, of course. Couldn't have been otherwise. But for a moment Charizard's struggles ceased, and she hung limp in Blastoise's arms, drifting.

The last battle was much like their first, without trainers, with no purpose but to hurt. "Where are you going?" Charizard had asked when Blastoise turned away, taking one ponderous step and then another.

"Home, I suppose," Blastoise said. "Whatever that turns out to be."

"Giving up?" Charizard said. "Turning your back on them now? Pathetic."

"What's pathetic is how you cling to some old story like it means anything," Blastoise said. "I've lost too much to your adventure nonsense. Go, if you want. Fly off and find some other foolish trainer to take with you to their death, I don't care. I'm done with it."

"You dishonor their memories. They gave their lives to find the answer, and now you're going to walk away like it doesn't matter anymore?"

Blastoise growled. "It doesn't! It was always you two—always you two pushing, saying we had to do this, saying we needed to try. You think my trainer ever cared? You think we would have chosen to go at all if it was us alone?"

Charizard huffed smoke, tongues of flame licking between her teeth. "Better if you hadn't come! Then we would have known we were alone, we wouldn't have thought we could rely on you! Then we would have been ready, it wouldn't have mattered that your stupid trainer choked—"

Blastoise roared and lowered her head to charge, and Charizard roared back, and their final battle was joined.

Underwater, Charizard tried to think past suffocating dark. It was hard, for more reasons than the strangling feeling of dead air in her chest, her tail-flame's fading glow. You didn't normally think while you were fighting. You simply acted, reacted, let your body carry you from one blow to the next. Your trainer did the thinking, since they weren't busy getting punched in the face. Battles in the wild tended to be brutal, and short.

But Charizard thought. And in the life-sapping darkness, she saw a way forward.

Charizard's scales glowed white as her fire lit the deep. The skin on Blastoise's arms rose in blisters, and the water churned, hot, chaotic ripples buffeting Blastoise's head. She turned her face aside, grumbling, and though she didn't let go Charizard only needed her grip to loosen, just a tiny bit. She slipped free, hot water carrying her up like an elevator until her head broke the surface, sweet oxygen all around.

Their last battle had been explosive, what Charizard can remember through a haze of long-ago bloodlust. Mega stones shone with enough residual energy to make a change, but one only half-right, unstable and lopsided. Blastoise had lurched under a shell grown too heavy for the rest of her body, face lumpy and misshapen. Charizard remembered throwing Blastoise down by her large central cannon, flapping and ungainly, her weight unbalanced and fire burning hot, too hot in her chest. Without a second source to draw from the mega evolution ate her own flesh.

And it hadn't solved anything, of course. They fought because there was nothing else to do and no one to blame but each other. In the end Charizard had won, proving nothing whatsoever, and Blastoise had left anyway. Then Charizard had left, too, on her own. They turned away from the graves that affronted both of them—Charizard because she knew you should burn the dead, Blastoise because she thought they should be released into the sea. But their trainers had been human and, it seemed, meant to lie silent in the earth.

Water swirled around Charizard, dragging at her heavy, sodden body. Blastoise would rise again in a second, ready to pull her down again. Charizard struggled to unfold one wing, shaking out wet and twisted membrane. The thick chunks of ice bobbing all around offered no help, slipping and tipping out from under her whenever she tried to climb aboard. Struggling at the surface, Charizard was almost indignant. Hasn't battled in centuries, as if.

She craned her neck, straining towards the peak overhead, lopsided and jagged now where ice had calved away. Charizard's wings slapped uselessly at the surface of the water, raising white-foam splashes. Blastoise rose behind her, silent as she slid up from below, and announced herself by snorting water from her nostrils. She wanted Charizard to know she was there, was giving her the chance to surrender, maybe.

As if. Charizard rounded on Blastoise, slow and clumsy in the water. Blastoise wasn't expecting her lunge, the claws scraping for purchase against her plastron, the teeth sunk into the side of her neck.

Blastoise roared and submerged, dragging Charizard with her. Charizard hung on, teeth sunk deep and claws striking anything they could reach, cracking shell, digging into the tender flesh where arm met armor. Blastoise began pulling her limbs into her shell. Charizard had to let go of Blastoise's neck when a closing trapdoor hatch of shell slammed into the side of her face. She jammed her claws in under it, snarling and digging around at random, but the shell kept closing, snapping down painfully on Charizard's knuckles. Charizard snarled again and dragged them free, lest they get sliced in half. Blastoise's shell slammed shut completely, and Charizard watched it sink away from her, silent, giving no sign it contained a living creature.

She had no way to get at her opponent now, and all Blastoise had to do was wait in there, perhaps recover her strength, prepare another attack. She'd have to come out and up to breathe eventually, but not nearly as soon as Charizard would. All Charizard had succeeded in doing was pushing her completely out of reach. Pointless.

Except that as long as Blastoise was in there, she wouldn't be able to see what Charizard was doing.

Blastoise poked her head out again not long after, perhaps sensing strange currents in the water around her, energy stirring the pool to restless movement. Charizard was struggling to hold the hyper beam contained, just waiting for her moment.

The deep was bright then, lost in a confusion of whirling bubbles, trapped pockets of steam. There came the roar of moving water, and Blastoise's roar, too, when the hyper beam engulfed her head.

Charizard let the attack's boiling recoil carry her back to the surface and gulped a long draw of air. It took a while for Blastoise to surface this time, and she did so with eyes shut, the skin of her face scrubbed scale-less and pink by the hyper beam. She growled when Charizard set on her again, claws raking at tender skin. "Enough!" Blastoise said, shoving Charizard aside with one arm. "I yield. You have your victory."

Charizard floated away, snorting and shaking her head, blowing water out of her nostrils. There was no human medication out here, no healing machines. It wouldn't have made sense to fight until collapse. But somehow she still felt cheated. If nothing else she'd hoped to catch the old thrill of their battles. Maybe she was just too focused on the fact that she'd be feeling the claw-wounds in her sides for days, whenever she took a breath.

Charizard wriggled off in an awkward stroke and crawled out of the water on all fours, tail held high, hissing and popping as it burnt off the last of its moisture. Across the pool Blastoise was doing much the same, more graceful in the water but still lumbering-huge. While Charizard sat and dried, getting her scattered limbs in order, Blastoise reopened reddened, running eyes, blinking furiously. Nearby bushes murmured.

"That was some trick," Charizard said. "You came up with that because of me, didn't you? In case we ever fought again."

"Don't flatter yourself," Blastoise grunted. After a few minutes, "So. You got your battle. Satisfied?"

Charizard didn't answer, just sat and groomed her scales, plucking out broken ones, grimacing at the ragged edges of the wounds in her sides. She ran her claws up underneath the key stone around her neck, scratching and wiping moisture from the scales below. Blastoise squinted at her through tears. "You ever get that thing working again? Since—?"

"No." Charizard settled the key stone back into place, adjusted it. The stone in its center gleamed as vibrantly as ever, but it remained dead. "Where's yours?" Charizard asked.

Blastoise waved a hand. "Gone. Gave it away. No point in me keeping it. I figure it ought to go to someone who might actually be able to use it."

Charizard's smile bared teeth. "So one of your innumerable offspring has it," she said. "I've fought them, you know. Several. They did well enough, I suppose, but none of them have a patch on you."

Blastoise chuckled, an immense grinding noise, then again at the affronted whispering coming from the stones around her. "Oh, come on out, you lot. There's no need to skulk around like that."

One blue face appeared, and then another, squirtle peeking from behind rocks and between tufts of scrub grass. There was the odd wartortle, too, hanging back with the attitude that they'd only been keeping an eye on the young ones, not eavesdropping themselves. Charizard had the suspicion that more than a couple of the boulders dotted around the peak had ears, had enjoyed the spectacle discreetly from the safety of their armored shells.

"Well, perhaps I'm just the fighter of the family. My kin may not be so bloodthirsty." Blastoise showed yellowed, cracking teeth. "But I think it's less lack of ability than lack of proper instruction."

Charizard made an expressive growl. "It's true. Trainers today aren't worth much. Too obsessed with their machines, their numbers. They've forgotten how to trust themselves."

"Even when we were young, there were no others like ours," Blastoise said.

"True," Charizard said, and in the quiet that followed the squirtle grew bolder, tumbling out from their hiding places, curled tails wagging. They scuffled and tumbled over one another, and some of them looked to be playing Charizard, spreading their arms like wings and jumping on their playmates.

Charizard watched them for a while, then said, "You remember the stories about Reshiram, don't you?"

"The dragon of truth?" Blastoise mused. "Yes, of course. The flame who burns away ignorance and lies."

"They say he can even raise the dead," Charizard said and looked up at the glacier, pretending not to notice Blastoise's glare.

"You can't be serious," Blastoise said. "You want to start this again? Again? After all it's cost us?" Charizard dug her toe-claws into the pebbly soil, wiggling them. "You think you're going to hare off on another crazy quest, chasing one of your stories. And you want me to go with you, don't you?"

"We are legends, aren't we? Aren't impossible quests supposed to be our bread and butter?"

"You're talking about a journey. Now? At our age?" Blastoise was older, though a year or two hardly mattered when laid beside eight hundred others. "A journey after something it would be better not to find."

"A journey to Unova," Charizard said.

"Unova's a long, long way from here."

"It's only half as long if you don't plan on coming back."

Blastoise studied Charizard, who stared back quietly. She knew how she looked, scales trim and gleaming, flame burning high, blue and white at its center. Charizard didn't decline as they aged. They grew stronger and stronger, the fire inside them burning ever hotter until it overcame them from within, like a dying star.

Blastoise, on the other hand, grew slower and slower until one day they stopped. And Charizard wondered how long this one had been asleep before her family had woken her, if she even knew what month it was, what season. Blastoise sat back and thought while Charizard honed her claws against the side of a boulder, their faint rasping underscoring the giggles of playing squirtle.

"I suppose we are legends," Blastoise rumbled at last. "The stupid quests are our job, aren't they? It's not like anyone normal would ever bother."

Charizard turned towards her, wings lifting slightly in surprise. Blastoise smiled. "I just hope you're prepared to wait around a lot. You might imagine I'm not the fastest walker, these days."

"There's no hurry. It's not like Reshiram's going anywhere." Charizard rose, shaking her wings out like she meant to fly off right that second.

"Tomorrow morning," Blastoise said sharply. "I have a few goodbyes to make."

Charizard looked at the squirtle falling about in play, with no patience for their elders' talk. One climbed up Blastoise's side to hang off a cannon, then slid down the dome of her shell with a shriek of delight, cannoning into the pool. Immediately three more ran over to try it. "More than a few, I'd say," Charizard said. "Been busy, haven't you?"

Blastoise laughed. "What do you know, you get to be a few hundred years old, and you have children, and your children have children, and their children have children, and all of a sudden have quite a few relatives to account for." She peered at Charizard. "Do you—?"

"No." But Charizard smiled, stretching out her neck and shaking her wings again, scattering water droplets. "Tomorrow morning, then. I trust you won't keep me waiting."

"As if! We were always ahead of you two, remember? Don't think you're going to leave me behind so easily."

"Wouldn't dream of it," Charizard said, and with a hammering of wings she was airborne. "Tomorrow, then." And every tomorrow after, for a good long time yet. They are legends, after all. There can't be one without the other. That's not how stories work.