I must apologise for not updating yesterday – I was seriously too tired to even switch on my computer.
Many thanks goes out to lupyne, NinjaSheik/INUGIRL and Pikmin Lad of the Stars/LORD OF DAKRAI, as well as those who have reviewed earlier, Gerti and Starlll.
I sincerely hope you all have enjoyed this fic, and I thank all who have supported me through the course of this first fic. I will be resuming writing soon, and will post up a new oneshot/collection of oneshots of Lucario and probably Mr Game and Watch by end June, so please do stay tuned.
In the meantime, those wanting more Lucario action can head over to lupyne's I Am Lucario, an extremely well-written and touching fic, or the more light hearted Captured! by Shadow Blues.
[Edit: Also, added to the end of the chapter is the list of the other fics in the same arc - if by happy chance you liked this fic, please feel free to check out the other fics in the series if you want to. Thank you once again!]
So without further ado, please enjoy the last chapter of this first fic.
Claustrophobia – Chapter Seven
Lucario's red eyes opened slightly. The first thing he noticed was the white of the infirmary bedsheets, followed by the coolness of the pre-dawn breeze. It seemed as if Lucario's disciplined habits had installed an alarm in his brain – it would wake him right before dawn, wherever he was. Lucario growled softly, then tried to roll off the bed.
This led him to the next thing he noticed – whenever he moved, he felt sharp stabs of pain arcing across his limbs. Suddenly, the memory of the high-stake battle the night before broke into Lucario's mind, throwing the Aura Pokémon into a mild frenzy. Who won? Did I win? Where is everyone? Lucario yelled telepathically to no one in particular, struggling to get up, his limbs moving slowly as if in a dream.
He calmed down a little, and settled into a half curled up position on his bed, taking the opportunity to examine the damage. Both his forepaws were bandaged, right up to his elbows, including both his paw-spikes. Two strips of white bandage ran around Lucario's waist, while his right ear tip was bandaged slightly and responded painfully when Lucario tried to twitch it. His lower body didn't fare much better, with his hindpaws bandaged with icepacks literally taped onto them, intense pain shooting through his nerves when he moved them, while a great deal of fur at the tip of his tail was gone, replaced instead with a twisted sheet of white tied into a ribbon. Also, he lost quite a bit of blue fur to the flames, but the blue fur was already trying to grow back in the charred regions.
Nurse Joy entered the ward, yawning, motioning for Lucario to not move. "You got beaten up pretty badly, hm?" She smiled, not unkindly, at him. Lucario looked into her face with large red eyes, his head tilted quizzically at an angle, but said nothing. After a second or two of silence, Lucario made as if he wanted to stand up, but Nurse Joy placed a firm hand on Lucario's shoulders. "Not yet, Lucario. Your injuries are pretty severe."
I have been through worse, Lucario sighed and continued to try to stand, biting back an urge to yelp. After a series of Joy trying to push Lucario back onto the bed and Lucario refusing to go down, Joy eventually gave up.
"You're a tough one, aren't you," Joy smiled at him, holding him by his shoulders as Lucario struggled to his hindpaws, icepacks dropping off of his bandages. Wincing, Lucario staggered two steps forward and one step back, nearly falling and taking Joy with him. Thank you, Lucario gave Nurse Joy a small smile in return, and painfully they inched their way to the infirmary door, Nurse Joy watching Lucario nervously as they exited from the ward.
Later that day, the double Trainers were called into Master Hand's office. Both Trainers stared at the giant glove as he floated, his back towards them as he flexed his fingers slowly but continually.
Smasher Pokémon Trainer, you may reclaim your position with immediate effect. The newcomer grinned, and saluted the glove. However, the results of the Brawl with Smasher Lucario will still stand between this Trainer and Lucario. The glove now turned around to face the old Trainer, who was shuffling his feet and trying to read Master Hand's expressions.
After which, you may leave the Mansion. finished Master Hand in a monotone voice.
"What? You can't do that!" protested the Trainer. "I came here legally –" And also contravened the rules, stated Master Hand flatly. There are plenty other Trainers whom I may invite to take care of the relevant Assist Trophy Pokémon, and I have in fact already invited another Trainer to that effect.
However, your hard work and effort in your job shall not go unnoticed, Master Hand added, after a pause. You shall not receive any other punishment other than your dismissal, although I suggest you apologize to Smasher Lucario before you go. We will watch the replay of the Brawl tonight, and after that you may claim your prize if you win and leave.
"You still can't do that! I –" Attempted to capture a Pokémon Brawler illegally, causing harm to both Pokémon and property, bound the original Pokémon Trainer in the Assist Trophy Room, tricked the original Pokémon Trainer, the rest of the Smashers, and not to mention Crazy Hand and I? Master Hand's telepathic voice boomed deep in both Trainers' minds, causing them to clutch at their temples. You are lucky I did not allow Crazy Hand to execute his original plan of punishment, Master Hand reminded. The Trainer shuddered, suddenly thankful, and attempted to change the subject.
"Watch a replay? Didn't I win yesterday? Lucario obviously beat Squirtle to the blast line, and –" I do not know. But all reports say it was close, and nothing short of an action replay will determine the winner. It was a close brawl, Trainer, Master Hand said,snapping his fingers suddenly, and nothing other than the truth shall satisfy both parties.
The Pokémon Trainer looked on with worry as the Trainer began to make plans to include Lucario in his gym fights back in their hometown. Indeed, if Lucario lost to him, Lucario would be in some trouble.
The rest of the Smashers, including both Trainers, were gathered into a room as Master Hand and Crazy Hand prepared to address the crowd. Master Hand was getting impatient, and Crazy Hand was already twitching more than normal, but they didn't expect to see the injured Lucario or Trainer's Pokémon in the room.
Master Hand began. As you know, last night's Brawl – but was cut short by a slow, but steady, jingling sound. Everyone slowly turned to stare at Mr Game and Watch, who suddenly noticed this and protested in his beeping tones. The beeps and clicks were obviously different from the soft jingling they heard, so they once again looked around to try to identify the source of the sound as it slowly grew louder.
Suddenly, the doorknob to the room clicked and shifted, as the door slowly swung open to reveal Lucario. All his limbs, including his tail, were bandaged to a smaller degree than in the morning, testament to his fast healing skills, but still he moved slowly into the room, bandaged paw on a tall wooden staff as support, moving across the room with a chink, chink, chink as the metal pieces on the staff tinkled with each step. A part of his blue fur was burned black, but his eyes remained unchanged, the large red eyes retaining their dignified fire.
I apologise for my lateness, Lucario bowed stiffly to the Hands, then to the room, and then painfully straightening up. He proceeded to make his way to a seat, and settled himself onto it without any help, tightly gripping the staff he held with both paws.
As I was saying, Master Hand continued, last night's Brawl ended apparently in a draw, with no obvious winner, as both Lucario and Squirtle reached the blast line at approximately the same time. Crazy Hand twitched. However –
For the second time that day, Master Hand was interrupted by Lucario. Squirtle? Was it not Charizard who fell with me? Master Hand flexed his fingers once, and then clarified. The Trainer was able to make a last minute Pokémon Change, resulting in Charizard being recalled and switched with Squirtle at the area immediately above the blast line.
Lucario drew in his breath. If the Trainer was able to carry out such a fortunate, highly difficult Pokémon Change, the time it took for Charizard to be recalled and for Squirtle to be sent out would have been roughly the time it took for him to fall from the bottom of Final Destination to the blast line. In short, he could have lost, because it was a legal time-delaying tactic if pulled off properly, and may have allowed Lucario to cross the blast line first. The news was like a stab to the heart, the bandaged paws gripped the staff tighter, fresh pain coursing through Lucario's forepaws.
However, Master Hand appeared to glare at the room, daring anyone else to interrupt him, we shall now review the video of the last seconds of the Brawl, to determine the eventual winner. I have called all of you here to act as witnesses, as this Brawl involves very high stakes.
Crazy Hand twitched, and suddenly the front wall of the room was covered with a replay of the brawl in the depths of Final Destination. Lucario saw himself reaching for, and barely holding on to the metal underbelly of the stage, as Charizard roared in anger, releasing a column of fire, engulfing Lucario in its flames. Lucario's lower body involuntarily went numb again as he relived getting his hindpaws burnt badly by Charizard's flames. The surviving fur on the soles of his hindpaws had actually caught on fire and spread slightly.
That explains the icebags, Lucario winced. Not wanting to focus on that, he looked upwards, seeing the Trainer run to the ledge of the stage and hesitate. After a full second, the Trainer took out a Pokéball, took careful aim, and threw it down. It fell quickly, narrowly missing Lucario by a tail-length, and hit Charizard squarely in the chest, recalling him. Lucario shuddered involuntarily, and again when Squirtle exploded out of his Pokéball at the location Charizard was recalled, but silently praised the Trainer for his skill.
But already the damage was done – Lucario had finally released his hold on the scaffold, involuntarily sent somersaulting down, his mangled tail whisking around him in a grotesque parody of what it was. Squirtle was released, trying mightily to swim upwards in air, his short legs frantically scrabbling away, then retreating inside his shell. The blast line – the legal boundary of the stage – was now visible, a clear white line in the bottom half of the screen, and the room went silent as the falling Squirtle and unconscious Lucario dropped towards it.
Both combatants approached it, then crossed it, and then fell past it.
No one moved.
Crazy Hand suddenly twitched, and everyone realised that even he had been still for the past few seconds.
Master Hand ordered a rewind of the tape, playing it again in slow motion as they neared the boundary, with the same result. The Smashers remained silent.
Master Hand rewound the tape once again, and progressed it frame by frame as they neared the blast line. Squirtle was in his shell, apparently rotating very slowly, and Lucario fell silently head-over-hindpaws. Everyone, with the exception of the Hands and Mr Game and Watch, blinked at the slow frame-by-frame playing of the video.
The tape was stopped at the exact moment the two appeared to touch the blast line, Squirtle with the bottom of his shell and Lucario with edge of his tail as he somersaulted. Everyone blinked once again as Master Hand enlarged the single frame, focusing on the boundary of the sharp white blast line.
The flat bottom of Squirtle's shell was just barely, but still, in contact with the boundary. Lucario was frozen mid-somersault, the edge of his tail brushing slightly against the blast line.
Nobody moved for a full ten seconds. Suddenly Crazy Hand jerked to life, twitching violently, and then moved across to the picture on the wall, and then jabbing a finger at it. The camera zoomed in obediently.
The hard base of Squirtle's shell had scraped the boundary, and no one could deny that. But what was surprising was Lucario's tail. Instead of brushing across the boundary like it normally would have done, Charizard's final fire attack had instead burned away the surrounding fur, leaving the true edge of Lucario's tail a bare hair's length away from the blast line.
Lucario had literally won by a hair.
The night wind blew gently across the roof of the Smash Mansion, finding the blue-furred Aura Pokémon on its top. Lucario sat on the edge of the roof, allowing his almost-fully recovered hindpaws to dangle off the edge.
I must apologize, began Lucario, still looking to the bright moon that hung high in the night sky. I must not have been thinking properly lately. He winced.
"Don't worry," Pokémon Trainer smiled. He lay back on the roof, hands behind his head, staring up into the night sky. Closing his eyes, he continued. "You didn't hang around me much before this anyway, so you probably wouldn't have been able to tell. Us humans are pretty much alike," he laughed silently.
That's not true. Pokémon Trainer opened his left eye to see Lucario looking back at him, red eyes fixed intently on his one. Your Aura tells of your courage, as well as your kindness to your Pokémon. Lucario'sred eyes blinked. I understand why they choose to follow you, or even stay in their Pokéballs for you. Lucario closed his eyes, reminded once again of the difference of his ancient world and theirs.
Lucario gripped the long wooden staff a little tighter, and looked intently into the blue shimmering crystal within for a full ten seconds. I'd do the same for my Master.
"Hey, perhaps you could come with me!" joked the Pokémon Trainer, tossing Lucario a Pokéball. Lucario deftly caught it in his left paw and threw it back at the Pokémon Trainer, who struggled to catch it an only managed to drop it. No, thanks. His voice was firm, but Lucario smiled a little.
Both of them watched as the Pokéball rolled down the roof and off into the space below, and shared a quiet laugh. None of them said anymore as they sat together and enjoyed the imminent dawn.
Or a new beginning?
Thus ends the story of Claustrophobia.
Days of Our Lives Arc
Days of Our Lives