Before I begin, if you haven't read Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Silver Resistance or its side fic, Emerald Chronicles: A Frozen Flame, both written by ScytheRider, then I advise you do so before continuing much further. Much of what is written here will not make much sense at all. Besides, they're two of the best Pokemon Mystery Dungeon fics out there.
Fort Emerald, roughly a year after the sack of Rayquaza's Clutch by the army of Sicarius
The dream had started out nice. They always did. She was sitting somewhere, woods, maybe home. There was a campfire in the middle, and they were all sitting around it. Who were they? Their faces weren't always clear, but they didn't need to be. She knew exactly who they were – her friends, her family, old faces she hadn't seen since she'd left for Ambera, and the new ones of the friends she'd made here. There was general merriment going on, with a single figure telling a story to everyone else. It was hard to say who was telling the story though. In that odd, dreamlike way, the figure seemed to switch between Legend and her Auntie. Hazy lights seemed to flit in the corners of her eyes, dancing around the gathered Pokemon... but what were most prevalent, more than anything, were the feelings – feelings of trust, contentment, celebration and kinship.
She vaguely felt her head swivel left and right, looking at the happy faces around her. It was so wonderful being here, she thought as she looked up into the night sky. Night sky...
And that's when everything would shatter.
Her head jerked down again, a horrible, sinking feeling in her gut. Something was terribly, terribly wrong. The fire was gone, and a cold, grey darkness was spreading. Dark, horrible shapes were materializing out of the darkness. And somehow she knew – this was her fault. She'd Called them.
And then they were running, running from the dark masses that had the faces of the Watchers and the Master's soldiers. She was crying as she ran, calling out desperately to Prince, to her auntie, to anyone who could hear her. And in response, she heard the voices of those behind her, her family, her friends, the Evergreen Guild and Team Echo, even Team Flamewheel, all calling out loud but disjunct phrases, echoes from her memory. And she would sometimes turn left and right, and see one familiar shape after another fall prey to the consuming shadows, melting away before them as if they had never existed.
Then, when her final ally – she thought it was Prince, but wasn't sure – had too melted away into the darkness she skidded to a halt, knowing by the dark shapes in front of her as well as behind that she was surrounded. Everyone was gone. Everyone had left her... and it was all her fault. She couldn't stop the Call again. And now... she was alone.
"Go away!" she yelled, a vine whipping out to lash the first shadow that so much as took a step towards her.
One of the Master's soldier's charged, a Mightyena with a hideous snarl on its face. She swatted it back, shrieking frantically.
However, as if this was some kind of signal, the other figures charged.
"No!" she wailed, swatting at the innumerable figures around her as they closed in, "No! NO! Get away get away get away!"
Lily jerked up with a yelp, her vines whipping out reflexively to swat at whoever was shaking her roughly. Only the vines hit nothing but thin air, causing her to overbalance and fall over in the backlash. Her face buried in some rough texture, she struggled to get up, to pull back her vines for another lash, only to find someone was holding them gently but firmly, making her thrash all the more-
"Lily! Calm down!"
For a moment the Chikorita struggled further, then suddenly something seemed to click in her head. Her hyperventilated gasping turned into choked sobs, sobs that she tried and failed to hide. Her body went limp and the hand released her vines, letting her retract them, while the same hands helped her up into a sitting position. Hands with the natural heat that could only come from a Fire type.
"Lily?" his voice said quietly, "Are you all right? What happened?"
Lily cracked an eye open, and through the bleariness she could see that Prince was indeed there, as was Legend, as well as a few others hanging by the door concernedly. She quickly shut it again. Wonderful. It looked like she had woken nearly the whole team this time.
She shivered, hoping against hope she was wrong. "D-did I use it?" she whimpered, her breath catching in her chest as she tried to stop crying "Did I u-use the Call again?"
Legend chuckled, "No need to worry. You did not. After all, we would not be nearly so calm if you had."
Lily nodded and relaxed a little, though the terror that had filled her such a short while ago was now quickly being replaced by embarrassment and shame. If it wasn't the Call, then it meant that they were losing sleep, over her again, over her nightmares that wouldn't go away. In the Resistance you treasured what rest you could get, and Team Flamewheel generally slept better on the days where Lily wasn't able to get to sleep at all. Even her, sometimes. Nightmares didn't exactly count as "rest."
"I..." she mumbled, "I g-guess it was just another nightmare. Sorry, everyone." Her smile was very forced.
The figures further back called out words of sympathy or muttered irritably at her words, and wandered off to head back to sleep. Legend too made his way towards the door of Lily's room. At the threshold, he paused, turned and said, with a polite dip of his head, "Sleep well."
Lily's mouth twitched very slightly. She wished she could sleep soundly...
She glanced over at Prince, fully expecting him to wish her a good night as well, perhaps with some word of comfort or reassurance before he left.
Instead, the Infernape sat, regarding Lily with an odd expression, a mix of worry and thoughtfulness. She looked away, not wanting to meet his eyes. He wanted to say something, she could tell, but what was it? A slight feeling of panic was rising within her. Was things like this, her nightmares, the flashbacks... would it mean she couldn't be on a Resistance team anymore...? But no... Prince had said he wouldn't abandon her... He'd promised. She would rely on that. She had to. Because there was nothing else for her to rely on anymore.
But if so... what was this about?
Prince sighed, "This is starting to happen more often, isn't it?"
Lily's heart sank. "I- I guess so..." she addressed her bed uncertainly. Her sobs, which had slowly been fading, threatening to come back at any time. He was right... before, it had been hard to sleep at all, now, as her exhaustion kept getting worse... only whenever she fell asleep, the nightmares came... horribly vivid ones, almost always ending with her being cornered by the Watchers or the Master's soldiers. And whenever someone came to wake her up... Well... Prince had known to dodge her vine whip for a reason.
Frowning, Prince said, "It's quite a problem. What are these nightmares about, exactly?"
Lily blinked. Hadn't she ever mentioned it before? She wasn't sure... days seemed to haze together in her memory, exhaustion making her memories befuddled and confused.
"T-they're always the same," she said quietly, occasionally hiccuping, "Sometimes... s-sometimes they start differently. But th-then..." she stammered to a halt. She paused, trying once, twice to continue. Prince said nothing, patiently waiting for her to continue. Finally she managed to force out, her voice a quiet whimper, "It's my fault. I use the Call and call them down on us... we try to run but we're never fast enough. Everyone dies and it's my fault."
She would have given anything to make it stop: The nightmares. The flickering echos that would stop her in the middle of the day, flashing across her vision and leaving her hyperventilating and heart racing. The heavy feeling that kept her from enjoying anything anymore. But she just didn't know how... it's like her past was haunting her. And she hated that feeling, a miserable hatred that wished fervently for it to all just go away.
"I just want them to stop!" she burst out suddenly, "I just want them to go away. I'm sick of nightmares, sick of not being able to sleep – I don't want it... I just..." She looked down, clenching her eyes shut. She was going to cry again if she didn't stop... only she was already crying.
Above her Prince grimaced. Gently he stroked her back as she cried herself out, waiting for her to calm down. Wen eventually the tears subsided and she looked up again, he asked, "Lily, you've been having trouble sleeping?"
"Sometimes," she mumbled, "I used to all the time, but... lately I've been so tired, I just can't stay awake... but when I do..." She shivered. Judging by Prince's expression, she didn't need to elaborate.
"Has anything else been strange, lately," he asked thoughtfully, "Do you, perhaps, see things that aren't there, things that you might have seen before? From the battle, perhaps, or before I found you?"
Lily stared. "Y-yeah," she said, faintly amazed, "Just... just sometimes, but... yeah. Does that mean you..."
Prince shook his head, "No... but I've heard of something like this before." He didn't elaborate, but his expression seemed to darken considerably.
"I'm sorry!" Lily said hurriedly, "I'm sorry that I'm waking everyone up and causing problems and... and..."
Prince glanced at her panicked face, and his expression softened. "You're not causing problems," he told her reassuringly, "But I do wish you had told me about this sooner. It's... helped confirm some things I've been wondering about."
"What kind of things?" Lily asked worriedly.
Prince looked at her one long moment, then sighed, getting to is feet, "Try not to worry about it tonight. Even if I am right, there's nothing we can do about it until morning. But with luck we should be able to get help. Will you be all right until then?"
"I... I think so."
He turned towards the doorway and paused. Turning back, he asked, "One more question. How long has this been going on?" When she didn't meet his eyes, he sighed once more. "Lily... Tell me next time, please. You know that you can trust me."
Lily winced. "Sorry..." she said miserably. Because if there was one thing she didn't want Prince to think, she didn't want him to think she didn't trust him. Because... she did. She just did. She had just... she'd thought this would go away by its own...
As Prince left, Lily curled back up on her bed, perfectly aware she wouldn't be going back to sleep tonight. All the same... she hoped that there wasn't much left of the night to wait out.
Times such as this came every once in a while, ones where Prince hated it when he was right. It hadn't been hard to see, once they'd been able to stop and look. That's probably how Lily had been able to get away with hiding it for this long – during the months they had trekked with the Emerald Division, it would have been easier to hide or explain away hints and clues. There was the constant need for so many different things – lookouts to avoid being discovered, scouts to spot any potential bases, teams to go out and find food, water, and other supplies – that everyone was constantly spread out and occupied with some task or another. That, and the fact that her nightmares had never been frequent before this, meant that it was only within the past month, as they were moving into the new Fort Emerald and turning it into a working base that he'd been able to watch her closely enough to spot the signs. Or maybe it was simply that her skill at hiding them was slipping; it wasn't as if he had been negligent before, especially so far as she was concerned...
"How is she?" a soft voice said, making Prince turn.
It had been Canniah who had spoken, but it was most of the team that was there, either standing in the hall or in the doorways of their rooms. He knew many of them had begun to share his concerns, and Lily's condition, even if it was not what he thought it was, was having an impact on all of them. That, and above all, she was his responsibility, and by extension, theirs.
"It appears that my suspicions may have been correct," he replied tiredly, walking towards them so as to not further disturb the already exhausted Chikorita behind the door he had just closed. "We will need to find a psychic tomorrow in order to confirm, and that could take a great deal of time, given that the Emerald Division has no ward for such things the way Gold did. Kabir, I need you to take over for me tomorrow."
"Gladly," the Smeargle said with a hint of irony in his voice, "Anything to get this resolved. It's not as if I enjoy being woken up at these ungodly hours..."
As the others began to retreat to their rooms, Canniah asked one final question. "And if it is the Unforgotten? What can we do about it?"
Prince glanced back at Lily's room, a true note of worry in his gaze. "I'm not sure. That is what I need to find out. But we will do what we must."
"The Unforgotten" (Thanks to ScytheRider for the name) is an actual mental disorder known in real life by an entirely different name. It was rechristened with a name more appropriate for the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon universe, where they don't have methodical names for psychological disorders. Some of you might be able to guess what it is already. In any case, more details will be revealed next chapter.
I will not lie - this fic has been inspired mostly by the fact that Lily is my character (submitted for Emerald Chronicles) and I have finally abandoned my shame and embraced my role as an obsessive brainmother. It will likely be a two- or three- shot, and will hopefully broaden some of the readers' understanding of her, as well as fill in some backstory. We all know how much I love filling in backstory.