A/N: Yeah, PokemonHero again. You may be wondering why I'm not posting in my other stories. Well, for a while now, I've wanted to practice my romance writing some more, and I figured that I could pull off a little one shot. And what better relationship to work with than the player/partner relationship in the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games?
This is actually my first one-shot. Everything else I've written have been full length fics, so this is a nice little break from the ordinary for me. I've got some plans for a few more one shots in the future. Heck, I may end up starting an entire story of just one shots. But for now, there's this. So enjoy and feel free to leave a review.
Partners for Life
By all appearances, it appeared to be the end of just another day in Treasure Town. The stars began to dim as the moon solemnly was making its way westward in the sky. But still, none of the shops had opened yet. Their keepers were still in bed, trying to get that last bit of sleep before the long day that lay ahead. In fact, nary a soul was stirring in the whole vicinity.
That is, save for one.
At nearby Sharpedo Bluff, a lone figure sat near the top of the precipice, looking out over the calm sea. She listened as the waves crashed against the base of the cliff below, gradually eroding at the steadfast rock. Her long brown-and-cream fur billowed gently in the light sea breeze. Her deep brown eyes reflected the pale beams of light from the dying moon.
The young Eevee let out an involuntary yawn, barely audible against the sounds of the sea. This was the third straight night that she had woken up and could not get back to sleep. She was plenty tired. After all, she had spent the previous day crawling through the mystery dungeon of Brine Cave with her exploration team. But something was keeping her from achieving inner peace: guilt.
She sighed. The last mission had been an absolute disaster. No matter how hard she tried, she just couldn't concentrate on the objective. Had she been paying attention, she would've easily defeated the foe that had come up on her and knocked her out. It wasn't difficult for her to figure out why she was distracted. It was the same thing that had distracted her for a long time now.
Her teammate was a unique individual. Not only was he a Riolu—in and of itself something that made him anomalous—but, at one time, he had also been human. He had come from the future in an effort to prevent the planet's paralysis. Emi had been the first one to encounter him after he had been transformed and the two became quick friends. She convinced him to form an exploration team with her and they joined the famed Wigglytuff Guild.
Mamoru had been so much of an influence on her. When they had first met, she was very timid, unable to really stand up for herself in front of anyone. But Mamoru was different. It didn't matter if he was some random outlaw or Dialga in a rage. He would stand up to them, never giving an inch in combat. As time went on, she could feel his aura of confidence beginning to wear on her. She began to feel like she could do anything as long as he was there.
As an exploration team, they had been through so much together. From the adrenaline rush of exploration, to the pain of departure when Mamoru disappeared after saving the world, to elation upon his return. They had probably experienced every single emotion one could experience in a lifetime.
Except for one.
But does he really think of me that way? she wondered to herself. Of course, they were best friends. However, Mamoru had never given any indication of thinking of her more than that. Meanwhile, here she was, unsure what to do, with feelings so strong that they distracted her from her team's missions. And they only continued to get stronger.
The smooth, relaxed voice startled the Eevee. She turned around. There, standing at the entrance of their team's base, was Mamoru. He was a dog-like creature, covered in blue fur except for his legs and torso, which were black instead. His face had a pattern on it that made it appear as though he was wearing a thief's mask around his red eyes. Yet he was far from a bandit. He was the kindest creature that Emi knew.
"Mamoru!" exclaimed Emi, surprised to see her teammate up. He was a pretty heavy sleeper, not usually up until well past dawn. "H-How did you know I was awake?"
This brought a light chuckle from the Riolu. "I can sense aura, you know," he said as he walked over to her. "I know you've been up early the past few days."
Emi swallowed hard. He…knew? she thought to herself as he sat down next to her. "Why didn't you say anything?"
Mamoru shrugged. "I didn't think that it was a big deal," he said. "I thought perhaps you had a nightmare or something." He was now looking her directly in the eye. "It's something else though, isn't it?"
She diverted her eyes from his warm gaze, looking out toward the sea instead. Not long after they met, Mamoru began to experience sensations where he could sense the emotions of others, even if they weren't displaying them outright. Perhaps it had to do with his ability to sense aura. But that didn't matter. He knew that something was up with her.
She sighed. "I was just…thinking about the past few missions."
"Oh," said Mamoru, a hint of concern in his voice. "Yeah, they were definitely not our best showings. But that just means we have to work harder next time around."
His words did little to encourage her. "You don't understand," she said, shaking her head in disagreement. "It was my fault we've been failing."
"You can't say that, Emi. There are many things that we could've done differently." He tried to position himself so he was in front of her. "It's not you're fault."
She looked back up at him. His eyes, radiating altruism, were fixated on her face. This was yet another aspect that Emi had long admired about her teammate. No matter how bad she would bungle something up, he never got angry with her. He always tried to shift the blame somewhere else: a path they'd taken, the time of day, even his own judgment or inabilities.
This time, however, his kindness only made her feel even guiltier. "No, it wouldn't have made a difference," she said, again deviating her sights off of him. Now she was looking down at her shifting paws. "I…was distracted."
"Distracted?" asked Mamoru, unable to hide the confusion in his voice. "What's been distracting you?"
Emi didn't answer. How can I tell him? she thought to herself. She wanted to tell him the truth, but the words were stuck in her throat. "I…I…" she stuttered.
Seeing that she was struggling, Mamoru placed a paw on her shoulder, sending chills down the Eevee's spine. "It's okay if you can't talk about it," he assured her quietly. "But if you do want to talk about it, I will listen." He got to his feet to leave.
You idiot, she thought to herself. You're about to let him walk away. Before Mamoru could even walk past her, before she could fully comprehend what she was doing, she reached up and grabbed him by the arm. "Wait, Mamoru."
Mamoru seemed startled by her action. This was the first time that she had done something like that. But he was quick to recompose himself. "Yes, Emi," he said, sitting back down next to her. "What is it?"
She took a deep breath. "The truth is, Mamoru, that I've been distracted…" Her voiced trailed off momentarily. Come on, say it. "I've been distracted…by you."
"By me?" asked Mamoru, very much unsure about what she meant. "What do you mean? Have I done something—?"
"No, it's not that," Emi interjected, trying to keep Mamoru from further blaming himself for her problems. She didn't want him to do that. "It's just…you." She stopped, expecting Mamoru to interrupt. Yet the Riolu remained quiet and gave a curt nod, encouraging her to continue. "I guess, for a long time now I've been wondering if…you really feel the same way about me as I do about you."
"You mean, as a friend?"
She shook her head. "No. As more."
For a moment, neither of them said anything. The only sounds that could be heard were the waves crashing against the cliff and rustling leaves as the breeze blew through nearby trees. However, neither of them was focused on those things. They just looked at each other.
It was Mamoru that finally broke the silence. "So that's what's been on you're mind."
Emi nodded. "You've always been my inspiration, Mamoru. There's no way I could've gotten this far without you. I've always thought of you as my best friend…" Her voice dropped off a little bit. "But I hope we could be something more. I understand if you don't—"
Mamoru put a paw up, cutting her off. He sighed, turning to look out toward the sea. "You've always been my best friend, Emi," he said quietly. "Ever since I came to this world, you've been there." He gave a nervous chuckle. "Truth be told, you're really the only one I feel comfortable being around."
She cocked her head to one side. "What do you mean?"
"It's hard to explain," Mamoru confessed, "but whenever another Pokémon talks to me, I feel…uncomfortable. I've been a Riolu for so long now that I will sometimes even forget that I was once human. Yet I still feel like an outcast. I don't know why…"
"But you're never that way around me," she said, concern in her voice.
Mamoru looked back up at her. "Exactly," he said, drawing a confused look from his teammate. "Emi, I just feel more at ease talking to you. It feels like you're the only one that really understands me."
She thought for a moment. It was true that Mamoru wasn't all that social. He never had been. But strangely enough, while he was quiet around everyone else, he was not nearly as shy around her. In fact, Mamoru seemed to almost enjoy talking to her. Whenever they talked, he acted like someone who at last was able to do the thing he loved the most. She figured that she was so used to talking to him when they were alone that she never paid attention to how he reacted around others.
"It's not just that, though," he added. "You said that I've been an inspiration for you. But truthfully, you've really pushed me as well."
Emi's eyes widened in disbelief. Did…Did he just say that?
"I know you don't believe me, but it's true," he said, noting how her eyes had dilated after he spoke. "You're the most determined individual I know. You've worked so hard to overcome your weaknesses. I really haven't had to deal with it like you have. It's something that I can't help, but admire."
She was still in disbelief. He…really admires me? It was such a strange idea. The one whom she highly respected held her in a similar regard. "I…I'm flattered, Mamoru," she said, feeling her cheeks getting warmer.
He now moved a little closer to her. "Emi, you mean a lot to me," he said, "and…I've thought about it for so long now. I just can't help, but think that…maybe this isn't just friendship. It can't be." He paused. "I…really like you. A lot."
Emi's cheeks were now scorching. "I…didn't realize you felt that way about me," she said, feeling slightly embarrassed.
Mamoru chuckled nervously. His cheeks were red as well. "Neither did I," he said. "I mean, you liking me and all…"
This made Emi giggle. She didn't know why. Perhaps the fact that she managed to put Mamoru into an uncomfortable position amused her. As it was, he wasn't easily rattled. Mamoru didn't seem to take it personally. In fact, he looked more relaxed than before.
Her eyes broke away from his face and started to trace down the Riolu's body. She couldn't help but admire how handsome he was. His blue-and-black fur looked so sleek and smooth, the darker hues having certain sheen in the morning light. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed that Mamoru was also looking at her. He seemed to be doing the same thing as she was, admiring her from up close.
Their eyes happened to meet, causing both of them to turn away from each other, blushing profusely. However, they didn't hesitate to turn back to each other. Again their eyes locked. Emi found herself lost in his optics. Normally, one would associate red eyes with an evil, vile creature. However, when it came to Mamoru, his red eyes emanated comfort, quelling the most of the discomfort she felt.
Emi gave Mamoru a nervous smile. For a moment, he didn't react. But he returned the smile with a little more confidence, like he knew what she wanted. He moved over closer to her. Emi still felt a little nervous. However seeing the confidence in Mamoru's face encouraged her that this was what she truly wanted. Then, as if they had been planning to do so that entire time, they leaned into each other and kissed.
For the inexperienced Eevee, the whole experience of their first kiss was almost overwhelming. She had to shut her eyes so her mind could wrap around the passion. Any discomfort that she was still feeling was instant replaced by newfound elation. Mamoru wrapped his arms around her, drawing her even closer to his body. Emi responded by doing the same, bringing her onto her hind legs. He started absentmindedly stroking the fur on the back of her neck, earning him a muffled, content sigh from her. If this is what it felt like to kiss him, she couldn't imagine what would await her in the future.
Finally, after what felt like hours, they broke the kiss, leaving them both gasping for air. It didn't take long for either of them to catch their breath. But just as they looked up at each other, a strange thing happened. A bright white light, much brighter than any light they had ever seen engulfed both of them. Emi had to shut her eyes so she wouldn't be blinded. Furthermore, air began rushing past her ears, making it impossible to hear. Her body began to feel strange as many things happened at once. Before she could get a grasp on what was happening, the rushing wind and blinding lights subsided.
What…What just…? Emi looked up toward her partner and let out an involuntary gasp. "M-Mamoru! Y-You've…!"
Mamoru looked down and gasped as well. He was now nearly twice as tall as before. Not only that, but two spikes stuck out the back of his wrists and a third protruded from his chest. His face had changed a lot, thanks to the sudden growth of his snout and ears. He appeared more jackal-like than before. Mamoru was now a Lucario.
He examined his new body. "I…I really did," he said. His voice had gotten slightly deeper upon evolution, yet it was still as smooth and relaxing as before. "So this is what it's like to be a—" He cut himself off when he looked over at Emi. "L-Look at you!"
Surprised by his reaction, Emi looked down. A short, smooth coat of lavender fur had replaced her original brown-and-cream coloration. She looked behind her at her tail. It was much sleeker and forked at the end. She felt around her face. Her ears were much wider and long tufts of fur were growing outward below them. But most prominently, she felt something hard and smooth, almost like a gem, encrusted into her forehead.
The realization hit her like "I've…evolved," she said, still in shock. A grin came across her face. "I've evolved into an Espeon." She looked over to Mamoru. "I-I can't believe it."
"Neither can I," said Mamoru in a similar state of shock. "But how…" He stopped as he knelt down to better look at Emi. "You don't think…?"
She nodded. "It has to be." It was clear in her mind why this had happened. This was the happiest she had probably ever felt in her life. No doubt that Mamoru was feeling the same way.
Mamoru smiled. He appeared like he wanted to say something, but he didn't say anything. Instead, he leaned over to Emi and wrapped an arm around her, drawing her closer to him. Emi didn't seem too surprised by this gesture, responding by giving him a peck on the cheek.
She rested her head on his shoulder, looking out onto the sea with him. For so long she had dreamed that this day would come and, now that it had, it felt surreal. They sat there silently, looking out beyond. Nothing needed to be said, for they knew what the other would say anyway.
After a little while, Mamoru broke the silence. "You know, we probably should get ready to do some missions," he said as he slowly and regrettably released his embrace on her.
At first, Emi was disappointed. She didn't want it to end. But still, they did have a duty to fulfill. "I guess you're right," she admitted, standing up and stretching out. Mamoru got up as well. Emi couldn't help but notice how much more powerful he looked upon evolving.
"I'll go grab the Treasure Bag," said Mamoru, walking over toward the base. Emi walked over and stood by the entrance as he looked for the bag. He quickly came back up with it and the two of them started walking toward Treasure Town.
Before they entered town, Emi stopped. "Mamoru…"
Mamoru looked down at his teammate. "Yes, Emi?" he asked, bending down so that he was eye level with her. "What is it?"
After hearing the concern in his voice, Emi smiled. "Thank you…for everything."
He returned the expression and added to it by leaning over to give her a quick kiss on the cheek. Again blood was rushing to her cheeks. "Today's a new day for us," said Mamoru as he stood upright, stretching out the muscles in his newly lengthened limbs. "Let's do good."
"Hey, you took my line," Emi chuckled, somewhat amused by his newfound cheekiness.
Mamoru didn't say anything, keeping a sly grin on his face. He started on down the path toward the Guild, Emi following close behind. She felt absolutely amazing. Lack of sleep didn't seem to be bothering. In fact, she felt more invigorated than ever. It was hard for her to believe that not long before, she had been sitting out on the bluff, wondering whether Mamoru really liked her.
But now…She looked up at Mamoru and her grin grew wider. Now, there was no doubt in her mind. This wasn't just friendship. They were beyond merely liking each other. This was love, true, heartfelt compassion for another. And it was clear that both of them felt that way. They were more than partners on an exploration team. They were partners for life.
And Emi wouldn't have wanted it to play out any other way.