No Antidote

"Drink this. Fast."

Bulbasaur could only stare at the glass bottle that his trainer was slowly moving in his direction. The orange liquid sloshed around, driven by the shaky movements of the arm holding the bottle in his direction. The concoction was pungent to his nostrils, and he had to resist the temptation to turn his head.

After all, it was his only chance...

Bulbasaur opened his mouth, allowing the neck of the bottle to rest inside it. His trainer lifted the bottom, and Bulbasaur forced himself to drink the contents.

"This is our last antidote", the trainer said. "Let's hope those Beedrills don't come back." With a careful look in his eye, he turned his head to gaze into the distant parts of the forest.

The Pokémon saw it now. A large bloody hole in the back of his neck. It matched the size of his similar wound, where a Beedrill had struck him mere minutes before. One left by a poisoned stinger, capable of...

And his trainer... he had...

"You need to get up. You need to keep going. We're going to do this, okay? All the way..."

The bottle shuddered. The trainer's body was beginning to shake, possibly from weakness.

"And if we don't... as far as we can... we promised..."

Bulbasaur's eyes began to water, as he remembered...

"Hi, I'm Marty!"

It was the first thing Bulbasaur had seen in a long time.

He wasn't sure how he had been placed in the Pokéball. It must have been a long time ago, when he was just... born? Sprouted? Which one was more accurate? Even he wasn't sure.

He didn't understand everything about his situation, but he knew his purpose. It had been ingrained into him. He would be given to a human. This human would instruct him in battle, and he would follow. He would continue to grow stronger, and the human would continue to catch other Pokémon. A first step... down a long road...

Whether or not the human would reach the end... he didn't know.

Whether or not he would still be there with the human at the end... he also didn't know.

"Let's be friends, okay?"

If nothing else, he thought, he was with the human now. It was expected of him. It was his purpose. And if he wasn't with the human...

...he had no idea where else he could be.

Bulbasaur collapsed from the pain. His body, covered in scratches, was finding it difficult to continue.

"Tough luck", the Charmander who stood over him said. "That you would have to battle against me so soon."

Charmander was one of the other two "starters", it seemed. He was of the fiery variety and looked the part, from his bright orange coloration to the flame on his tail. No plant of his power could have possibly defended against it. And yet... he had been defeated purely by physical strikes.

"I'm not done yet," Bulbasaur responded. "I will never..."

He didn't finish, as he was recalled into his Pokéball. He felt much better when he was inside it; the darkness was calming, and the pain was far easier to bear.

"It's not over", Marty told him in the Pokémon Center later. "Brandon got lucky. We'll see him again, I'm sure of it. And next time, we'll win."

A rival, Bulbasaur thought. A reason to continue fighting. A reason to improve. An early goal to achieve, in preparation for more daunting tasks along the way.

Was Charmander his rival? He couldn't tell. They had only met once.

"And to do that", the human continued, "we need to train. You need to become stronger, and I... I need to be smarter."

Bulbasaur thought about this. Both were taking their first steps into the wilderness. There were many things that neither of them knew. And they would need to learn them... together.

He wasn't the only one being trained. So, too, was the human.

"We're going to do this, Bulbasaur." Marty's face was enthusiastic. "We're going to beat Brandon. We're going to make it to the Pokémon League. And... we're going to win it. Understood?"

Bulbasaur looked into his eyes, and nodded.

The human's expression flickered slightly. "But... if we don't... it doesn't matter!" He smiled even more brightly. "We're going to give it our all! No one will ever say that we gave up! Agreed?"

"Agreed!" Bulbasaur responded. And he meant it, even if it sounded like a mere "Bulba!" to his trainer. This was his purpose. The human needed him, and he needed the human. Together, they could stand a chance...

And then they had gone after a Beedrill, and several more showed up, and he fell, and the human had leapt in front of them to prevent a final strike, and...

Bulbasaur drew his mouth away from the bottle, leaving just under half of the remaining fluid in the bottle.

"Please..." Marty said quietly. "You need it..."

Bulbasaur shook his head. With one of the whip-like vines he had recently learned to control, he gestured in his trainer's direction. To emphasize it, he tapped his neck wound lightly, causing the human to wince in pain.

"Ow... it... they got me? I didn't even feel..." Marty's expression softened. "You want me to have the rest?"

Bulbasaur nodded somberly. If this had been a different situation, he might have been happier that his intent was understood so well by his trainer, a human who could not understand a word that came out of his mouth...

The human nodded as well, and drank. It was a quiet moment.

"It's not over yet, Bulbasaur. We can do this. It's a challenge. We'll overcome it." He smiled. "No matter what."

Bulbasaur nodded again. No words he could have said would have mattered.

"It's a beautiful forest, isn't it?" Marty looked up at the various trees of Viridian Forest that surrounded them. Bulbasaur followed his gaze as best as he could. There were various bird and insect and mammal noises all around them. They remained out of sight in the darkness, but he could hear them all, and understand many. Life was going on around them. It made him want to live even more, and make as much...

Marty coughed suddenly. Bulbasaur jumped in reaction and looked at him. There was a small puddle of orange liquid on the ground near him, the same color as the kind dribbling down the trainer's chin.

The antidote.

Marty didn't seem to notice. "It's... relaxing... isn't it? I feel like I could... just... stay here... for the rest of my..."

He didn't finish. To Bulbasaur's shock, his body collapsed pronely onto the ground.

The Pokémon looked around frantically. Where had they gone? The Beedrill had led them off the path... and he didn't...

Marty continued to lie perfectly still. Bulbasaur couldn't even see breathing...

He was out of options.

"HELP!" he shouted in his scratchy voice at the forest around him. "He's going to die! We need help!"

The forest grew quiet. There was no reply. Why would they bother? Marty was just a dying predator to them. And he... his faithful companion.

In that case, he thought...

"We need to get a human out of the forest!" he shouted again. "Where is the nearest town?"

After several seconds without a reply, he gave up on the idea. He used his vines to bind Marty's ankles as best as he could and began to drag him along the leaf-covered ground. In which direction, he didn't know...

"This way."

Bulbasaur raised his head up slightly and started to turn, trying to find the speaker.

"Follow my voice."

Help? Was this the help he had requested? He wished he could believe that. For all he knew, it was a hungry predator, hoping to save a few steps by telling his prey to come to him...

...and if he was, what did it matter? If Marty died, no one would be concerned how it happened. If he died, Bulbasaur would be left alone in this forest, possessing little to nothing in the way of survival instincts or knowledge of the area, and he would find himself prey soon as well.

If the voice was helping... follow it. If it was a trap... no worse than dying slowly in the forest...

He followed it. The voice continued, changing direction slightly as he made slow progress between the trees, the body of his trainer leaving a trail behind him.

And then it was right in front of him. The town.

It had taken less than an hour. They had apparently not gotten that far out of town. Marty may have been the kind to target the first Beedrill he saw, he considered. "Thank you!" he shouted to the general vicinity.

There was no reply.

Bulbasaur wondered about this. It was possible that providing that kind of assistance to trainers and their Pokémon was frowned upon.

No need to force the issue, he thought. He started to look for anything resembling a Pokémon Center. They healed him. They would be able to heal Marty.

They didn't. They took the two to a different building. One for people.

Bulbasaur lay down near his trainer's bed, fearing the worst. The humans in this building had been moving frantically, racing against time, trying to do everything they could. He had enough difficulty finding a place where he wouldn't be trampled underfoot...


Bulbasaur's face immediately brightened. He hadn't heard a word from his trainer since...

He thought about pulling himself up the side of Marty's bed. He decided against it; there were certain things placed there that the humans tried not to touch unless they needed to. Maybe they were important.

Instead, he latched onto and pulled himself on top of a nearby chair. He was clearly in Marty's view as his eyes slowly opened and adjusted to the light and his new surroundings.

"...hey there..." the boy managed with a weak smile on his face. "You're a pretty cute Pokémon..."

The Pokémon's eyes watered. His effort had paid off. His trainer was awake again, and things were starting to get back to...

"...what kind are you?"

"The poison made it all the way to his brain", the nurse said sadly to the woman whose face was broadcasted on the phone's screen. "We administered medicine as fast as we could, but the damage is done."

"How long ago did it happen?" the woman asked with a depressed voice.

"We don't know. We think he was in Viridian Forest at the time. The Pokémon Center nurses say his Bulbasaur dragged him in all by itself. It could have been hours."

Said Bulbasaur could no longer see the screen, as the nurse holding him moved to the side to allow another nurse to escort Marty to the screen.

He still heard the woman's voice. "Marty, is that you?"

"Uh... yeah... I think so", the boy responded hesitantly. "Uh... who are you?"

The nurse shook her head sadly. "He can't seem to remember much of anything. We think that given time, he might be able to remember it again or relearn it, but..."

"Now, Marty", his escort said as she led him out of the room, "you will be going home soon. Your parents will be coming for you. Is that okay with you?"

Marty shook his head just before he passed out of sight. "I... I don't know. Was there a reason... why did I come here... alone?"

Bulbasaur was now being carried in the same direction behind them. Before his nurse escort left the room, he was able to hear a bit more of the conversation.

"So... if we help him learn everything again... he'll be okay... right?"

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Atrice. We can't repair the brain tissue, and the rest of it is likely to deteriorate as time passes." She took a very deep breath. "He'll be lucky if he survives the month."

"They say you saved me", Marty said to the Pokémon that was now sitting next to him in the waiting room. "Thank you."

Bulbasaur wished he could nod, or smile, or say comforting words, or anything like that. He couldn't. He hadn't saved him. He had only delayed the inevitable.

As far as everyone was concerned, his trainer was dead. Killed by Beedrills. The poison had done its damage.

...if only he had taken the antidote for himself... he might have been saved. He could have lived the rest of his life, whether training or doing anything else he enjoyed.

...but he didn't. He gave it to Bulbasaur, because he had been attacked first. And Marty wouldn't have been stung at all if he hadn't...

...he hadn't saved his trainer. His trainer had saved him... and was now paying the price.

"So." The boy tilted his head slightly. "What were we doing out there, anyway? I wish I knew..."

Bulbasaur knew exactly why. Marty wanted to be a trainer. He had been preparing for this opportunity for over a year now. He didn't start out great at it or anything, but he didn't intend to give up. And indeed, he had just started to improve...

...if the human was taken home, and he died, what would become of himself? He had no life to return to. He remembered his purpose: to help the boy become a Pokémon trainer. That reason was all he knew, ever since he had come into existence...

"We're going to give it our all! No one will ever say that we gave up! Agreed?"

Marty had said that to him... in this very town... when he was the one in pain...

His bag was still covered in dirt from having been dragged across the forest, but it was still intact and lying in the chair next to the boy. Bulbasaur gripped it as best as he could with his vines and brought it to himself. He slowly opened it and rummaged around. A few potions, a few Pokéballs, no antidotes... of course not...

There. He pulled out the Pokédex. It had several scratches on it, but it didn't appear to be broken.

As he managed to open the cover, a mechanical voice spoke out. This Pokédex is the official property of Martin Atrice, age 10, home town Pallet. We of the Pokémon League hope that it will be of great aid to you as you embark on your career in the exciting future of Pokémon training.

"...Pokémon training?" Marty's expression was confused. "...I was... a trainer?"

No, the Bulbasaur thought to himself immediately. You still are...

He propped it on the chair at an angle and walked around it, trying to find whatever part of the device would be able to detect his form and cause it to...

Bulbasaur, the seed Pokémon. The plant that grows on its back allows it to provide sustenance to itself. This Pokémon has been trained by scientists to obey the commands of its owner. It will be your valuable companion throughout the early stages of your journey. Take good care of it, and it will do the same for you.

" you were my... companion..."

The Pokémon didn't hesitate any longer. He hopped off the chair, wrapped his vines around his trainer's arm, and pulled him in the direction of the door.

The human didn't understand. "No... I... I'm supposed to wait for my mother... right?"

Bulbasaur shook his head repeatedly and continued to pull.

A bit of recognition lit up in the human's expression. Perhaps, Bulbasaur thought, for the first time since he woke up again. " want me to keep going..."

"Exactly", Bulbasaur said in a happy voice as he nodded. Once again, it was only perceived as part of his species name.

It didn't matter. His trainer understood, picking up the bag and Pokédex and slowly following him out the door of the hospital.

...and yet... though he understood... he didn't remember. Bulbasaur realized this. He didn't remember his upbringing... or his interests... or his dreams. He couldn't understand how much he had wanted to go on this journey... and how far he had been willing to go...

He would be dead before the month was over, the nurse had said. Did it matter? No, Bulbasaur decided. Marty didn't know that. If he wasn't going to be able to live a full life... he was going to live a fulfilling one. Not one at home, staying with a grieving mother. One of accomplishment, of becoming a Pokémon trainer... just like he always wanted.

He didn't remember that he wanted it. So he was just going to have to learn it again.

He would have very little time to achieve his goal. But he had said it himself. If we don't... as far as we can...

The two had promised. They would give it their all, and they would keep going until the day that Marty could go no further. How could they settle for less?

By the time the woman from the viewscreen arrived and entered the hospital, they were long gone.

I try my best to see the cup half full and try to smile
Try to accept the past; we are only here for a while