Zangoose faced off against her fourth opponent. She had been switched in and out so often now, she'd become a little dizzy. But, her goal was still the same. Her target was right in front of her, some strange Ghost that looked like a balloon. It couldn't attack her directly, and she'd normally not be able to attack it. But, she had a new secret move and this was the perfect time to try it out. She could hear the announcer get excited, and her trainer called out to her. Her claws flashed and she tore a great hole in the side of her opponent. Her new Shadow Claw move was quite effective here, and she won easily. And as she turned, she heard her trainer call again, but in a panicked way. Looking back to her opponent, she realized that it too had a secret. Its body bloated and contorted, threatening to engulf her. She had nowhere to run, her attack had brought her too close to dodge. It exploded in a fireball, and she was consumed.
"Oh no! Drifblim's Aftermath wiped out Zangoose! Both have to be withdrawn! And it looks like Drifblim was the challenger's last usable Pokemon, so the champion has won another match!" The crowed cheered and the whole dome shook with their excitement. Travis hardly heard any of it, though. He had withdrawn his Zangoose, but he was too concerned about her to enjoy his latest victory. He thanked his opponent and commended him on being such a good challenge. He accepted his latest trophy, and smiled for the reporters. It was all mechanical, nearly scripted. He moved through the motions so that he could get to a Pokecenter. He knew he needed to, the last hit was devastating. Even his Gardevoir was urging him with concern, and not just for his Zangoose. The match really had been harsh on his whole team, and they needed rest.
And once he got away, he went straight to the Pokecenter. The reporters were gracious, they understood his concern. Or at least they thought they did. He smiled for them, apologized, and as soon as their eyes were off of him he ran. He ran to the Pokecenter, where they were already waiting for him. He was popular, after all. It made sense that they'd be watching the telecast. And within minutes, all of his Pokemon were being treated.
After 2 of his Pokemon had been returned to him, he was informed of just how badly his other 4 had been injured. The most serious of them was by far Zangoose, and she would need to rest overnight. He had agreed without hesitation. And now he sat in the waiting room, waiting for news. Waiting for when he'd be able to see his Zangoose again, as well as the others. He waited, and he worried.
His Gardevoir had been watching him the whole time. She hadn't received very much damage at all, so she was released very quickly. She had moved to comfort her trainer, and tried to impart hopeful feelings, but it just wasn't working as well as she would have hoped. Her trainer was very worried. So she stayed with him.
Travis continued waiting with Gardevoir. It had been hours since he'd first arrived. He looked from his Poketch to his Gardevoir, and she smiled at him. Again she imparted feelings of confidence and hope, and all he could do was smile at her. "Thanks, Gardevoir," he said. "I just... I really hope Zangoose is OK. I knew that Drifblim could do that, I just... thought that she would be alright. I know she's tough, but I think I really screwed up." Gardevoir did her best to comfort her trainer, but he was just too worried right then.
One of the nurses walked up and gave Travis a cup of coffee. "Sorry for the long wait. We've stabilized Zangoose, and gave her a bed. She's still groggy, but you can see her now." Travis snapped back and was standing before Pokemon or Nurse could react. And a moment later, he sat next to his Zangoose.
She was sleeping, her chest rising and falling rhythmically. He scratched her ear and it twitched, but she didn't stir. Her right foreleg was encased in a cast, and his heart sank a bit. He didn't need to hear the doctor telling him how injured she was, he understood that she'd need to rest for a long time. This meant that he would not be able to move up to the higher battling ranks this time around. He was going to have to forfeit this year, after working so hard. He was more than a little heartbroken at the thought. 'But...' he thought to himself. 'At least she's alright now. That's a relief.' He could feel that his Gardevoir understood and could feel her relax a little. He stretched and made himself as comfortable as he could. And before the end of the hour, he was fast asleep.
Hours passed. Trainer and Pokemon slept, but it wouldn't last. Zangoose woke up with a dull ache in her foreleg. Everything seemed a little dull, her senses not as sharp, so she knew that she had been drugged. Then she noticed the stiff coating and remembered how badly the end of that last match had gone, and she grimaced. She'd blown it by getting hurt so badly.
"Good morning, sleepy head," came a voice Zangoose recognized easily. She shifted and saw not only Gardevoir, but the prone and sleeping form of her trainer. He'd stayed with her. That made her feel a little better.
"Heya, Gardevoir. Guess I blew it, huh?" She laid her head back down and sighed deeply.
"It's all right, Zangoose," Gardevoir said, trying to cheer her friend up. "Our trainer was very disappointed, but he's glad that you are safe. That's what matters to him right now."
Zangoose sighed again. She knew how hard he had been practicing for this particular tournament. She'd been in so many before, but this one seemed... more. Bigger. She couldn't quite understand, but she knew it was really important. And she'd gotten hurt before the end. "So, we failed then?"
"Not at all," said Gardevoir, and she projected positive feelings. "The last one you fought was the opponent's last Pokemon. You beat it and we won. But, that Pokemon had a nasty defensive ability, and it destroyed itself when it was beaten."
Zangoose growled. "A dirty trick then? He knew he couldn't win normally, so he made sure that one of us would be hurt too bad to go on? What a jerk! I should- AH!" She had moved to extend her claws, but the movement only shifted her badly injured foreleg. She whimpered softly and laid back down.
"What is done is done," Gardevoir said as she comforted her friend. "There is nothing left for us to do but heal and try again some other time. But, perhaps a wish for well being couldn't hurt?"
Zangoose smiled at that. Her friend had a special trick where she could wish for good things to happen, and they would. Their trainer used it to great advantage, and they used it to ease each other's training. It was such a useful skill, and Zangoose greatly respected Gardevoir for it. A moment passed, and Gardevoir's wish came true. Zangoose felt better, and knew that the healing had taken place.
The two sat in silence for a while, Zangoose lamenting the lost chance while Gardevoir kept watch over all of them. Zangoose's mind wandered for a while, and she came to a thought. "You know, I kinda envy you, Gardevoir."
The Psychic Pokemon stirred only slightly, having expected the statement. But, she couldn't understand it, even having felt it coming. "What makes you say that?" she asked her friend.
"Because," Zangoose explained. "When you feel bad, you can let him know so easily. When you're hungry, you can tell him. When you're tired, you can tell him. If I get tired or hungry, I have to work at it to get him to understand me. I jealous that you can just tell him and make it so clear."
Gardevoir laughed a little. "It's not that easy, Zangoose! I can't just 'tell' him directly, he doesn't understand us like that. I have to impart a certain feeling, or show him a specific image. And I can't really understand him either. I know what he's feeling, that's true, but I can't really 'talk' to him. Even though I would like to do that some day."
"Yeah, but still," Zangoose continued. "You can still make yourself understood while I have to go and scratch at the kibble can, or just lie down and make him take a closer look at me. It's hard..."
Gardevoir didn't argue the point, and they sat in silence for a while again. After a while, Zangoose spoke up. "I wish... I really wish I could just talk to him. Just once. I want to be able to tell him things, and ask him about stuff. I want him to understand me just ONCE when I tell him 'hey, I'm hungry!' I just want him to understand me better. That's all."
Gardevoir closed her eyes. "I too wish that he could understand us better. For just one day, for one hour, that he could understand us as clearly as we understand each other."
Zangoose smiled. "Yeah... that would be pretty cool..." the medication began to take effect again, and Zangoose drifted off to sleep.
Travis woke up to find both his Gardevoir and Zangoose sound asleep. He didn't want to wake them, so he quietly recalled Gardevoir, then got permission to take Zangoose and did the same for her. He was still a bit disappointed from the withdrawal yesterday, but he knew he'd get over it. He thanked the helpful Pokecenter staff, gathered his belongings, and started to head home.
He stretched after a few miles had gone by. His stomach was starting to remind him that he hadn't had much to eat yet, so he started looking for a place to set up. There was a nice looking field off the main road, with a single tree shading a grassy patch. 'Perfect,' he thought to himself, smiling.
He took off his backpack and started setting up the picnic lunch he'd packed. As he pulled things out of his pack, he unconsciously passed his hand over a small jar stuck into one of the inside pockets. He smiled at it, remembering why it was there, then finished setting up. Once everything was done, he summoned Zangoose from her Pokeball. "Morning, sleepyhead," he said with a big smile.
Zangoose rubbed her eyes and saw the picnic spread. "Oh, good morning, trainer. Is it time to eat?" She got up to her feet and cradled her wounded foreleg, then noticed a strange look on his face. She hadn't seen a look like that before, and it puzzled her. "What? Is there something on my face?" She tilted her head and tried to look as confused as possible, so he'd understand.
Travis' eyes had about rolled out of his head. "No. Nothing's on your face," he said plainly.
Zangoose looked at him for a moment. "You're acting weird today, wonder what's up... with..." As the words came out of her mouth, she started to realize what had happened. Her ears stood straight up and she looked back at her trainer. "Did... did you... ?" She couldn't even finish the sentence.
Travis' jaw dropped. "Since when do you speak English?" And Zangoose understood every word.
Both stared at the other for a long while, not sure what was going on. Then, both started to laugh. "You can understand me!" Zangoose cried with glee, almost crying. "I can't believe it! This is great!"
"H-hang on, I'm still trying to wrap my head around this," said Travis, rubbing his temples. He couldn't understand what was going on. This didn't make any sense to him at all, but... he didn't care! "This is... wow, I mean... hah, want some lunch?"
"Y-yeah! I'm starved!" And the two sat down to their picnic lunch.
After they ate, Travis looked over his Pokemon. "Man, I don't even know where to begin. This is so amazing..."
"I know!" Zangoose said excitedly. "There's so much I've wanted to ask you, so much I'd like to know! Um... How come some people say 'tra-vis' at you?"
"Hah, that's my name! 'Travis'." He laughed, but kept smiling.
Zangoose blushed and looked away. 'That was a stupid question,' she chided herself. 'Come on, think of a better one! You might not get the chance to ask again later.' "Um... OK, why did you give me those nasty pellets when you first met me? There were a lot of them, I still remember that."
"Wow, that was a long time ago," Travis said. "Those were Proteins and Carbos. They're supposed to make you stronger and faster. It's something I was taught while becoming a Pokemon trainer."
"Oh. That's weird." Zangoose scratched her head, pondering the answer for a bit. This was going to be hard if every answer just gave her more questions. "Man, I wonder what Gardevoir would ask. I kinda wish..." Suddenly, Zangoose had made a mental connection. Gardevoir. Wish. "AH! Let Gardevoir out! Quick!"
"Huh?" Travis was obviously confused, but summoned Gardevoir. "Uh, OK. Now what?"
Gardevoir caught on quickly when Travis spoke. Her eyes widened with surprise, but Zangoose beat her to any words. "Alright, you. What'd you do last night?"
Gardevoir was at a loss for words, so instead thought back to the previous night. She recalled it easily, and remembered their last words before sleep overtook them. "I... I said... that I wish..."
"Yeah," interrupted Zangoose. " You wished that he could understand us. Well, guess what!" And all Zangoose could do was grin.
"Goodness!" was all Gardevoir could say, and Travis laughed.
The trio talked for a while about everything and anything they could think of. Travis was more than happy to answer questions, and he had a few of his own. They shared whatever knowledge they had, because they all knew it wouldn't last. And for a long time, a single thought played through Zangoose's head. Some nagging feeling that there was a very important question that had to be asked. But how to phrase it? Could she ask it without sounding rude? Did she really want to know the answer?
Travis watched her for a while, then asked first. "Hey Zangoose. What's bugging you? You look a little upset."
Zangoose shocked upright. "Uh... It's... well..." 'Come on, Zan!' she chided herself. 'This is your chance! It's not going to come again. So just ask the question and hope for the best!' She took a deep breath and steadied herself, trying to act calm and sure. "Why did you pick me?"
"Huh?" Travis was obviously confused by the question. "Um, well, I liked your species, and..."
"No no, that's not what I meant!" Zangoose almost couldn't get the words out. "I mean, at the ranch, when you came and inspected all of us..."
Travis remembered that day clearly. It'd been years ago when that had happened. He'd just finished his training as a battler, and he wanted to be the best he could be. So, he'd need only the very best Pokemon. He decided that she deserved nothing less than the truth. "Well, there were a lot of Zangoose to choose from, but you were from a specially bred litter. You and your brothers and sisters were the strongest at the ranch."
Zangoose interrupted again. "I remember that. It was down to me and my twin sister." Gardevoir had never heard this story before, so she sat quietly and listened.
"Right," Travis continued. "Well, both of you were about the best of the bunch. The strongest, the fastest, equally smart... It was really hard to pick between the two of you." Jack smiled a little as he remembered the day. "It turned out that there was one major difference between the two of you. Your sister had a better constitution, and was more resilient to sickness. But you were physically tougher than her. So, I picked you."
Zangoose sat quietly for a moment and digested the revelation. He didn't even bother with the other Zangoose at the ranch, he only wanted the "strongest". And then when he picked her, he made sure that she'd be even stronger with those pills. And then at the tournament...
Zangoose swallowed hard. "S... so... if I wasn't strong you wouldn't care about me? Is that it?"
Travis looked shocked. His eyes widened and his mouth dropped. But Zangoose just rolled right over anything he might have said. "So, since I wasn't strong enough for you at the tournament, are you just gonna replace me? Maybe my sister is still hanging around. Maybe she'd like to fight in your crummy tournaments!" Zangoose had had enough, and got up to walk away. She could here Travis spluttering a protest, but she didn't really care. She just had to get away, somewhere far away.
But she couldn't. Her foreleg was still injured badly, and it throbbed as she tried to walk. Leaning up against the tree, she crumpled and cried. Her life seemed like a lie. The one she really believed in was a lie.
Gardevoir came over to her friend and didn't say a word. She made a wish for comfort for her dear friend, and let it take effect. When Travis tried to approach, she held up her hands and silently requested space. And she waited until her friend was ready to talk.
"What, you gunna try an' convince me of something?" Zangoose wiped her tears, a bit of her old self returning.
"You know that we Gardevoir can only thrive with the heart of a trainer. We know our trainers well, and their happiness is our happiness. It's our way."
Zangoose huffed at that statement. "Yeah, what about it?"
"I know what you do not. You did not allow Travis to finish what he was saying. And I think he has something very important to tell you, if you'll let him."
Zangoose sat quietly for a moment, which Gardevoir took advantage of. Travis was waved over, and he carried the jar from his backpack with him. "You know, you're right about one thing. When I first got you, and not just you but Gardevoir as well, all I cared about was how 'strong' you were. Because, if you were strong, then I could win and that's all that mattered. And I remember one specific day back when you were still too young to really train. I had let you out of your Pokeball because that's what the guide I had told me to do. Anything to make you a better battler." Zangoose made a disgusted noise and started to turn away. "And you know what? That guide sure was right. Because you were happy to be out of the ball. You went and explored and saw that I was watching you. And you found something and brought it back to me. Do you remember what that was?"
Zangoose stopped to think a bit. "Sure, I remember. It was a little blue feath..."
Travis had retrieved the feather out of his jar and held it up to Zangoose. It had been years and years since she'd given him that, how'd it still look so good?
"You ran up to me, with the feather in your mouth. You pulled it out, stood up, and gave it to me. I was a little confused, but you looked so... happy. Nothing else really mattered to me that day. We spent the whole day outside and played. You explored and had fun while I watched over you. I knew your potential as a battler, but I had totally misunderstood your potential as a friend. We didn't go home until the sun started to go down, and the first thing I did once we got home was throw away the guide. I knew what I had to do, and it wasn't going to be 'raising the best battler'. I was going to raise a friend."
Travis offered the feather to Zangoose, who took it. She had been shocked into silence. "Zangoose, you changed my heart. You made me see something that I didn't even know was there. After that, I didn't really check any other Pokemon too closely. I just picked the ones that were friendly enough." He smiled at her, a genuine and reassuring smile. "How could you say that I don't care about you when you're so important to me?"
Tears started to run down Zangoose's cheeks. "Ah! I'm sorry! I didn't know..." Travis moved closer and hugged his dear friend, and she returned it. And Gardevoir watched over the pair with no envy in her heart, as she knew that he cared as much for her as he did for all of his Pokemon.
After a while, the trio sat back to watch the sun set. They'd spent the whole day in that beautiful field in the shade of that solitary tree. Gardevoir sighed and spoke up. "The day grows short, and I fear that my wish won't last much longer. If there's any other questions, now is the time to ask."
Zangoose smiled. "I don't need to know anything else. Travis will be there for me, and I'll be there for him when he asks."
Travis smiled at that. It felt good to know that. "Well, there is still one thing that's been bugging me."
"What is it, my trainer?" asked Gardevoir.
He turned to her with a suddenly serious expression. "Where do Pokemon Eggs come from?"