A/N: Hiya everyone! Are you happy for an update? I am! I'm finally in college, too! I was hoping to have time to be able to write more of my fanfics, but it looks like my major won't give me such free time any time soon. I do plan on switching to a theater major next semester though! I'm sure I might not have too much time even then either, but it's something I want to have a career in.

So, I've seen a few reviews on our fanfics that there are some who don't like the Japanese names. I understand why you wouldn't like it, and trust me, I also found it annoying when I went back and read the whole thing. That's why James and I've decided to rewrite only the Pokémon's names back into English! So if you look back on all the chapters of Mystique, all the Pokémon names have been changed to English. At least, I think I did.

Mystique
CH
19: Nightmare

The Pidoves chirping outside the window woke me up. Rays of sunlight pierced the white curtains of the room, shining into my eyes. I shut them tight and dug my head into the covers… and something warm. Forcing myself to focus on my senses, I felt something slightly heavy resting on my head. Was it a hand? Whose hand was this?

It was Hikari's.

I gently shook her hand off my head and looked out of the blanket. It was sunrise, the sky tinted a golden orange to blue. I hopped off the bed and approached the veranda window. My head was throbbing like someone was banging a hammer inside my skull. Maybe some fresh air would help. I stood on my hind legs to reach the handle and pulled the glass door open with my paws.

A crisp breeze greeted me while my vision was overwhelmed by the golden rays of the sun.

Unfortunately, this was not a time for me to relax. In fact, the headache worsened my irritated mood. Why did I feel this way again…?

"That's how much I've come to love you. I'm willing to do anything to keep you safe and happy."

"Am I stupid?" I muttered to myself. Last night's whim suddenly flooded into my head, making me want to throw myself out this veranda. Still, it didn't change the fact that I decided to confess the truth to Hikari today. I lied down on the cool cement, looking out into the horizon. I deeply sighed. "I swear this isn't going to work…"

"… Luxray?"

My fur stood on end. Shit. I slowly turned my head to make eye contact with the figure behind me. Hikari Did she hear me? She was staring at me with half-asleep eyes, her hands rubbing them gently.

"Something the matter?" She gave me her usual smile—No wait—Something seems off. Her eyes seemed swollen. She tilted her head in confusion at my lack of response. "What's wrong? Do I have something on my face?"

Did you have a bad dream? I gave her a look. I pursed my lips, wondering what I should do. I looked down at the floor. Nothing came to mind.

"It's okay, Luxray. I think I may have had a nightmare," Hikari stuttered. "Haha, maybe I had one that you disappeared or something." I kept looking down. It was enough to make me realize that my human self has only appeared to her once and suddenly disappeared afterwards. "Just… kinda like him…" I jerked my head up to look at her. My eyes widened, and my jaw dropped. Did she just…?

Do you know who I am? I thought to myself. She couldn't have. I let a small sigh of relief. She was almost as clueless as Satoshi.

Hikari blinked at me in surprise. "Hm? Oh no, did you get scared that I had that nightmare?" She grinned and slightly bent down, generously patting my head. "No need to worry, I'm fine! I mean, really. You're Shinji's after all. Can't have you disappearing on me!" She let me go, standing back up and walking to the restroom.

I swore she whispered, "Just… kinda like him…" But maybe it was my imagination. This headache must've messed with my head too. Whether she said that or not, I decided to ignore it. I had a more important situation on hand: telling Hikari. After taking one last look at the now risen sun, I turned back and went inside.

It was time to wake the other girl up. I walked up to Iris's bed and noticed Axew sleeping by her. "… Hm." I approached Kibago and nudged him with my paw. "Psst. Wake up." Axew wouldn't budge. I continued to try shaking him up, but it was no use. "Let's try Iris." I hopped onto the other side of the bed and nudged Iris.

"Nnn… Agh…" Iris mumbled as I nudged her. I rolled my eyes and sighed again. I got both of my front paws and shook her as lightly as I could without using my full weight. She finally opened her eyes only to meet mine. She suddenly sucked in a huge breath and stopped in her tracks. All she was able to manage was a squeak. "Oh my Arceus…!" She coughed, unable to hold in that huge breath.

"Iris?" Hikari came out of the restroom with her toothbrush in her mouth. It didn't take her long to process what was going on. She then burst into laughter. "Sorry Iris. I'm sure Luxray didn't mean to scare you like that. He was only trying to wake you up."

"Well, I know that! But it doesn't help that the first thing I see when I wake up is yellow eyes!" Iris flopped back onto the pillow and groaned. "I thought my heart was gonna stop."

Hikari simply giggled and patted Iris's hair as she brushed her teeth. Her eyes then shifted over to me. When I tried to look at her back, she averted her gaze and walked back into the restroom. My eyes followed her path until she disappeared. I quietly sighed, feeling like this was going to be a long day.

How many times have I sighed in one morning?

~.~.~

After breakfast and some time to rest, everyone met outside to say their farewells.

"So where will you be going from here on out, Hikari?" Satoshi asked. "It was short, but it was great to see you again."

"Same here! I'll probably be travelling with Jun around Unova for a while. I made a promise to meet up with Shinji after all!" Hikari smiled, gently petting Piplup on the head. "I decided to give up on getting more badges. Contests are always gonna be my #1 anyways! And who knows? I just might add musicals to my list of interests!"

Satoshi grinned, satisfied with Hikari's answer. "Glad to know you've decided on what's best, Hikari! What about you, Jun?"

"Eh, you know, the usual!" Jun responded. "I'll make sure to meet you at the Pokémon league, Satoshi. It'll be just like before!" He laughed as he reminisced on the Lily of the Valley Conference. "Hm, I wonder if Shinji would be there too. I'd sure like to battle him again."

That's IF I return back to normal, I bitterly thought, but even then it'd be too late to participate in the conference. I don't have enough Pokémon and badges either.

Hikari patted Jun on the shoulder. "I'm sure you will, Jun. He might be nearby, you know?" My heart skipped a beat. "You'll see him! Hopefully soon, I think?" Another beat. I was praying that I appeared completely normal to the others. Because I knew for sure that my stomach was tied into knots and wouldn't untangle them.

"Hey Shinji," Pikachu called out. "It was nice to see you again."

I knew I couldn't speak or my human speech will slip out. I couldn't do anything but smirk in return and nod. It was nostalgic to see Satoshi and Pikachu again.

"I know you can't talk, but I want you to take good care of Hikari." Pikachu took a short glance at her before turning to me. "I mean, I'm sure you've seen how clumsy she can be at times. But I think she'll be fine if she has you guys by her side." He patted my paw with his tail to comfort me. "You'll be just fine. You'll turn back to your normal self in no time."

Wow, I think I actually felt some sort of affection towards Pikachu. In fact, the realization of it pissed me off. "I already know that," I lightly snarled. It should've been quiet enough for no one else to hear. I couldn't help but smirk though. I crouched down to Pikachu's level and held a paw out. "See you again."

Pikachu grinned back and bumped his paw with mine. "Ha, there's the Shinji I know. Yeah, see you soon!" He hopped back onto Satoshi's shoulder and smiled at him.

"You ready, Pikachu?" Satoshi asked. Pikachu gave him an enthusiastic nod. "Alright, where was that place you wanted to go again, Dent?"

"Ah, the Stamp Rally!" Dent excitedly responded. "I was thinking of participating in it before we left Nimbasa. I remember telling you about it before. It's only a day, so perhaps Iris and you can spend your time at the amusement park while I'm there." He smiled and pointed at the park. "You two wanted to ride all the rides, didn't you? It'd be a great chance!"

Iris squealed. "For real?! I can't wait!" She caught Dent's gaze and froze in her tracks. She suddenly remembered that time in the ferriswheel. "Ehe… um… Thanks Dent! I wish you luck in the Stamp Rally!"

Satoshi turned to us and smiled. "So, that's the story! We'll see you guys later! Maybe we can meet again in the next city."

"Yeah! Maybe we'll meet along the way or something!" Iris exclaimed. "It was really nice meeting you guys, and I had so much fun in Nimbasa City!"

"Same here! It'd be really great if we can cross paths once more!" Hikari replied. "I'm sure we'll all get stronger the next time we meet!"

Dent smiled a little wistfully. "Although our meeting has a bittersweet taste at the end, all we can do is await the next course!" He gave us a thumbs-up. "I hope I can show you my amazing cooking skills the next time we meet too!"

"See ya, guys! And Satoshi, we're gonna battle the next time we meet! I assure you that it's gonna be my win!" Jun pumped up a fist and grinned. "So don't be slacking around or I'll fine you!"

Satoshi gave him a grin back. "Gotcha! But don't think that I'll lose that battle!"

"By the way," Dent caught our attention, "do you know where you'll be going next?"

With that, we parted ways. We continued on our way to the next city while the other gang headed towards the subway station. I looked back at them while Jun and Hikari were figuring out their map. I wondered… How different would it be if I were human and joined these two on their journey? Would I have been able to greet Satoshi and everyone else just like them? Who knew? Even I didn't know. I huffed a little sigh before turning to the two.

Hikari closed the map before tucking it in her backpack. "So, it looks like our next stop is Driftveil City. They also have a drawbridge that we have to walk across to get there. And it doesn't seem like it's a short walk, so we best be prepared." She gave me a quick glance before turning around. "Let's go, guys!" She started walking towards the road to the next city.

She didn't even pet me. Don't get me wrong. I don't hate it or enjoy it. But she made it a habit of hers to pet my head before walking after a rest.

Jun tilted his head in confusion and crouched down next to me. "Hey, Luxray. What's up with Hikari? She seems a little more detached to you than usual," he whispered. I shrugged, agreeing that she was acting strange in my perspective also. "Do you think she had enough sleep last night? You'd know, right?"

Maybe she didn't… She was asleep by the time I was fell asleep on the bed. But other than that, I'm not sure. Unless…

She was awake the whole time.

The thought sent me into a panic. There was no way she was actually awake and heard me talking, right? All those things about my identity and whatnot? Arceus, if that's true, I have a lot to explain to her. That would also explain why she was acting like this. But I really didn't want to think about it. There must've been some other explanation for her behavior.

Hikari turned around, looking at us. "What are you two talking about?" She skipped towards us with a bright smile on her face. "Hey, let me in on it too! Don't leave me out!"

"It's nothing, Hikari! Don't worry about it!" Jun replied naturally. "I was just talking to Luxray about my Empoleon and his moves in relation to Luxray's. That's all."

Damn. Smooth move, Jun. And you were natural about it too.

"Oh! Well, how'd that go?"

"Eh, doesn't seem like he's interested." Jun gave my mane a tousle and smiled. When Hikari turned back around to keep walking, Jun's face expression contorted into a 'that-was-close' expression. "Geez, I'm glad I was able to find an excuse, eh, Luxray?" he whispered. I chuckled. "C'mon, Hikari's gonna leave us! Wait for us or I'll fine you!" He ran over to Hikari in order to catch up.

I did the same, but I ended up walking behind them. I had a lot of things to think about.

This whole thing was starting to frustrate me that it gave me a headache. I sighed and observed at the blue skies past the dark green forestry. A flock of bird Pokémon flew past us, signaling each other by squawks. Ah… I began to wonder how my Pokémon back with aniki were doing.

My thoughts started to wander off while we were walking. I was so preoccupied with my storm of thoughts that I didn't notice the presence of a stranger approaching me. My eyes jerked up when I saw a pair of shoes in my vision. Before me was a kid a little younger than Hikari and Jun with dirty blond hair and wore an orange jacket over his dull purple hoodie. I slightly backed off in caution. No matter how much I've changed, I was still wary of strangers. Who was this kid?

"What is this Pokémon?" he asked to himself. He carefully raised his hand to try petting me. I displayed my fangs and lowly growled at the gesture to warn him of what I could do if he screwed up. "Hm." His hand retreated into his pocket and came back out holding a teal camera. "Amazing. I've never seen such a Pokémon like this before." With the sound of a click, he snapped a photo of me.

"Oh, hello!" Hikari greet the boy. She crouched down next to me and pet my mane. "This is a Luxray from the Sinnoh region. That's probably why you've never seen one before."

"Hn, Sinnoh, huh?" The boy stood up. "Not bad." He took out his PokéDex and scanned me for information. He then look at me and back at his PokéDex. "This doesn't look like the one registered in the PokéDex."

"That's because he's a special one," Hikari replied. "I'm not exactly sure if this is a mutation or not, but as Luxray continued to evolve, his mane became purple." She glanced at the boy and noticed the camera. "Are you a photographer?"

"I take photos to record my experiences." The boy went through his photos in his camera for a few seconds and stored it into his pocket. "I'm Shooti (Trip)."

"I'm Hikari, and this is J…" She gestured at Jun, but he was nowhere to be found. "And we lost him again." She smacked her forehead with her palm and sighed. "Well, I have a friend travelling with me named Jun. He's also from Sinnoh, like me." She watched him stand up and not say a word. "You don't talk much, do you? You kinda remind me of someone I know."

"More than that, I want to battle your Luxray." Shooti took out his shrunk Pokéball and enlarged it, pointing it straight at Hikari. "I want to battle it and see how strong it is."

Hikari's eyes went wide. "W-wait, what?! W-what's with a battle, out of the blue?!" she stammered in a panic.

"Well?" Shooti provoked. "You can back off if you think your Luxray is weaker than my Pokemon. He wouldn't be worth my time if he is." He released out a Pokemon that greatly resembled Snivy.

Something stirred inside me. Something that told me that I should've bit him when he approached me in the first place. But moreover, he reminded me of myself when I tried to battle Shirona (Cynthia). He was similar to me in wanting to battle strong-looking people and ignore the weaklings. That was in the past though. I've changed since I battled Satoshi in the Lily of the Valley Conference and lost to him. I know that trainers can become stronger as long as they persevere. I figured that this boy had a similar way of treating his battles, his wins, his losses, and his Pokemon.

I grinned, looking back at Hikari in approval. I wanted to battle this kid.

"You sure, Luxray?" she asked. I nodded. "Well… alright. I accept your challenge!"

Shooti smirked at her answer. "Perfect. This should be beneficial to my Pokemon too. In fact, how about we make this battle…" he paused to reveal a second Pokeball, "… a two-on-two?"

"That's totally fine!" Hikari answered. "I'll go with Piplup to fight with you, Luxray. Is that alright?" She smiled brightly. "I think this would also be a good chance to try out that new combo we were working on for you two. Please?"

Is that what you're aiming for…? I thought. Ah, now I regret wanting to battle. Back when Hikari was still training me as a Shinx, she tried to drag me into her contest combinations with Piplup or Togekiss. I found it both tiring and irritating, but they were good strategies that can also be used for battles. Thinking on how it can work out, I nodded to Hikari and let her use Piplup as my partner.

"Alright, Piplup! Charm Up!"

When Piplup came out, he nudged my front limb. "Looks like we're finally gonna put that combo to good use, huh?" He gave me a mischievous grin. "But who'd think we would actually use it, considering it's you of all people?" He snickered, not noticing the vein that popped in my forehead. "C'mon, we got some suckers to defeat!"

I heard a snort from Shooti. "Really? You're gonna try to defeat me with such a tiny thing? That's so childish of you. I thought someone from Sinnoh would be smarter than that."

"What did he say?!" Piplup squawked. "I'll show that little—!"

I held Piplup back from attacking the trainer by nipping his feathery cape. "Calm down. Getting fired up will ensure your defeat, pathetic penguin," I whispered. "You're lucky I can't snarl at you like before." Fortunately, Hikari was far away from us to hear my voice.

"Join Servine, Gurdurr!" A Pokemon of the same height as me came out of the Pokeball, holding a steel beam in his hands.

The two Pokemon looked at Piplup and started snickering to themselves.

"Please, you're telling me that I have to battle this little guy? You can't be serious, right?" Servine sneered.

"I'll have lots of fun beating that little thing to a pulp!" Gurdurr grinned arrogantly.

"Shut up! I'll have you know that I'm actually very powerful!" Piplup retorted angrily. I was sensing that he was definitely ready to battle. But I had to admit, their personalities were just as bad as the kid's. I didn't think they were even at my level of power yet either. I thought backing up Piplup wouldn't really hurt.

"You know," I lowly growled, "I think that arrogance and self-righteousness of yours will be your downfall." I gave them the most intimidating expression I could muster while smirking. I planned on crushing those irritating personalities to make them learn a lesson.

Hikari took a deep breath. "Alright Piplup, use Bubblebeam to surround Servine and Gurdurr!" With her command, I threw Piplup into the air. He sent a wall of bubbles their way, surrounding our opponents in a never ending torrent of bubbles. It definitely wouldn't do much damage on both of them, especially Servine because he's a grass type. But this should be enough of a distraction, if anything. "Alright, shoot it!" Piplup then shot a bubble at the wall, releasing the continuous attacks on them.

"Gurdurr, Stone Edge to protect yourself!" I couldn't see what was happening, but I knew what Stone Edge was. It wouldn't provide too much protection from the bubbles, but Piplup's attack wasn't long enough to crumble the rocks completely during the attack.

As I predicted, it didn't do a lot of damage. Once the bubbles were gone, all I saw was Gurdurr covered in a hoard of rocks like armor. The rocks were soaked and close to crumbling, but it was enough to do any damage to him. Servine must've taken shelter from Stone Edge too.

Or so I thought.

Servine was nowhere to be found when the rocks crumbled away completely. Only Gurdurr was there. Where could he have escaped to? Right? Left? Above?

Shit.

"Servine, use Leaf Tornado! Gurdurr, use Low Sweep!"

The ground beneath me cracked, and I immediately knew what their strategy was. But I was too late to react. A tornado of glowing leaves pierced me, causing a bit of damage.

"Shinji!" Piplup was hit by Gurdurr's Low Sweep before he was able to come help me. He fell backwards and was held down by Gurdurr's steel beam. "Let me go!"

"Pfft, as if." Gurdurr snorted.

"Luxray, use your eyes to find Servine and use Crunch! Piplup, use Ice Beam on that steel beam and break out of it!"

I would've said the leaves blinded me but the eyes of a Luxray were able to see through anything it wanted to. I was already one step ahead of Hikari and was finding the right moment to attack. Piplup was trying to do the same while struggling to break free from the strength of Gurdurr.

"Not if I can help it. Servine, use Solar Beam! Gurdurr, use Dynamic Punch!"

Servine then faced the tornado of leaves as they were starting to disappear. Wait for it. He then opened his mouth for the solar beam to charge. Wait for it. An orb of light formed at the tip of his mouth, threatening to shoot out at any moment. Now! I shot down to where Servine is and sank my fangs into his tail just as he was about to shoot Solar Beam. As for Piplup, he managed to freeze the steel beam onto the ground and used Gurdurr's Dynamic Punch to break out of the ice. He got away while Gurdurr tried to break his beam out of the ice. But to no avail.

"Tch, how are our attacks not even hitting?!" Gurdurr shouted.

This one was of my own accord, but I'm sure Hikari didn't mind it anyways. The plan was to get Servine and Gurdurr together for the combo to work. I threw Servine towards Gurdurr, his Solar Beam slamming into the steel beam as the two collided together.

"Get up, Servine! You too, Gurdurr!" Shooti commanded. Servine and Gurdurr were struggling to stand up; their strengths were almost drained.

"Let's finish this off with the Electric Whirpool! Luxray, use Charge while Piplup uses Whirlpool!" I positioned myself into a stance and began to charge electricity for the next attack. Piplup, on the other hand, whipped up a large whirlpool that even Gurdurr and Servine wouldn't be able to get out off. The large whirlpool caught the two inside, spinning them around and around. "Now, Luxray, scatter your Discharge into the Whirlpool! Piplup, then use Ice Beam to freeze it!"

I shot scattered bolts of electricity at the whirlpool. The electricity was travelling through the water towards the center where our opponents were. Electric attacks weren't going to do a lot of damage, but it would paralyze them there. Piplup froze the water until Servine and Gurdurr were trapped. I quickly grabbed Piplup and ran out of the way as the frozen whirlpool smashed into pieces as it hit the ground.

With that, Shooti was defeated.

Piplup landed on the ground and hopped onto my head. "That totally worked! Amazing teamwork, Shinji!" He held out a flipper for a high-five. I smirked and bumped my paw with his. "I think you're really getting the hang of this!"

"That was amazing, you two! Come here and give me a hug!" She spread her arms open for both of us to come to her. Wait, did she expect me to go to her too? Well, first time for everything. Piplup hopped off my head and hugged Hikari with all the love he's got. She squeezed Piplup tight before glancing towards me. Her eyes softened as she extended an arm towards me. "Come here, Luxray. You deserve a hug too."

Hesitating, I stayed still for a short moment before walking over. I sat down next to her her as she tousled my mane and stroked my ears. Needless and embarrassing to say, it felt nice.

I heard another click from a camera and turned my eyes to Shooti. He had snapped a photo of us this time.

"I'm just recording this to remember this battle," Shooti stated. I caught a hint of frustration in his voice. "Bye."

Okay, I take back almost everything I said about him being similar to me. At least I was polite and the older trainers, not as immature as him. But I think we taught him and his POkemon a good lesson.

"Geez, what's with him?" Hikari asked. "At first I thought he was similar to Shinji, but he's so childish compared to him. You must've been thinking the same thing, right?"

"Hikari!" Jun called from afar and caught our attention. We noticed him at the foot of the bridge, waving to us. We all looked at each other before running towards his location. "Hikari, we got trouble. It seems like the bridge is closed for repairs. We won't be able to get to Driftveil City at this rate."

"Oh no, did they say how long it'll take for the repairs?"

"They said the drawbridge might be fixed by tomorrow or the day after." Jun crossed his arms in irritation. "Man, why did the bridge have to break at this time? I should fine them for not doing a proper job!"

"N-now, now, Jun, I'm sure they're doing their best to fix it." Hikari nervously laughed at Jun's impatience. "Why don't we set camp nearby then? Maybe the bridge will be fixed by then." She looked at the sky, which was beginning to show the hues of sunset. "Plus, it's getting late. We might as well."

Jun was fuming. "Argh! Fine. Just this once! I'll go find a place for us to camp in." He stormed away. I chuckled. That impatience of his still hasn't changed about him.

While Jun was finding a safe area for us, Hikari had let out all her Pokemon to let them have some fresh air. Of course, some of them started playing around with some children while others relaxed in the shade. I lay on top of Torterra, enjoying the shade the little trees on top of his shell provided for me. Torterra was relaxing next to Hikari, getting some of the sunlight he needed.

"So Shinji, how are you feeling? Any closer to returning to your human form?" Torterra asked me.

I poked my head out of the foliage and sighed. "I honestly can't tell…" I muttered. "I'd like to think I am." I lay my chin flat onto his shell, my ears twitching. "I just hope the full moon is either today or tomorrow. It's almost time to meet up with Xatu again and see how I'm holding up."

"I'm sure you'll turn back, Shinji," Torterra reassured. "By the way, Hikari's been looking in your direction for a while now. Did you do something?" That statement completely directed my attention to her. "She seems a little… nervous or something."

Oh yeah. Hikari was acting strangely in the morning. She seemed to be completely fine near midday, but she reverted back to the same way from this morning. My worries from this morning were beginning to increase now that I've been reminded of Hikari's behavior. Just what was she so nervous about?

~.~.~

We had finally set camp in a nearby forest, just close enough to the road so that we can continue on our way the next morning. We already ate dinner thanks to Hikari. She wasn't as bad of a cook as I thought. Once the fire was put out, Jun slipped into his sleeping bag while Hikari went into her tent. I decided to sleep in the middle of the two. I had to protect them somehow. As a Luxray, my senses were very keen so I could be able to be the first one to sense something dangerous.

I looked up at the night sky, trying to find the moon.

Ah… It's full tonight. I wonder where Xatu could be. The moon was bright that night. I actually didn't expect the full moon to come so soon. I wanted to know how much longer I'll have to be stuck as a Luxray. I continued to wait for the flutter of wings to approach me. But it never came.

My eyes eventually fluttered closed, and I fell asleep.

But it wasn't until a few hours later when I heard a low yelp with small sobs following it. They were coming from Hikari's tent. I raised my head and looked at her direction. I didn't need to go inside to know what was happening. Through the tent, I saw Hikari's slumped figure, her hands covering her face as she sobbed. My worries then skyrocketed seeing her cry. I silently stood up and rushed over to her tent. Unzipping her tent was futile as I only had paws, so I kept trying to paw at the fabric, hoping to catch her attention.

"L-Luxray?"

I gave her a concerned look. I don't think I've ever seen Hikari like this before. It made me want to pet her like the way she pets me.

"I'm sorry, did I wake you up?" She sniffed, trying her best to wipe her tears away. "Don't worry about it, I'll be fine. It was just a nightmare."

A nightmare?

I lowered my head for a second before entering her tent. I didn't care if she was going to push me out (I would've let her and stayed outside anyways). I just wanted her to know that I was here. What nightmare? I thought. What kind of nightmare did you have that you're this scared?

Was that why she was acing so strangely?

"It's Shinji." Her answer made my fur stand on its ends. "I keep having this nightmare, and it scares me so much."

I gulped. I gazed at her for her to continue, if she wants.

"I seem to be cornered at the edge of a cliff. I don't know why but I have this sense of dread that something extremely dangerous is going to happen to me. And I'm not talking about the cliff. I'm talking about what's cornering me." She shudders at the mention of it. "That's when something—I don't know what—happens, and I fall off the cliff." She seemed to flush at what she was about to say next. "I, um, called out Shinji for help. And, I don't know why, but… you appear out of nowhere and run towards me." She took a deep but stuttering breath. "I don't know what happens, but I hear his voice. It's so faint but he sounds so desperate."

This nightmare was starting to concern me greatly. If this was a recurring nightmare, what could it have meant?

"And the next thing I know, I'm on the ground with Shinji next to me. He's all injured and looks like he's about to die." Tears started to flow down her cheeks again. "Luxray, what if this nightmare comes true? It all feels too real, and I'm so scared that it might come true! This still feels like a dream. I still feel the terror I felt in the dream, even in my fingers."

Seeing Hikari so terrified and helpless made me want to embrace her so tightly that I never want to let her go. I just wished so much to tell her the truth. I was supposed to tell her today, but looking at her now… The truth wasn't important. Not now. All that mattered now was calm her down and stay by her side.

My lip slightly quivered. I wanted to talk to her. Did I have the courage to talk to her and pass it off as a dream by the morning?

I decided that I did.

"Hikari…"

Her eyes grew wide as her body flinched from my voice. She looked at me as if I suddenly reverted back to my human self. Would this be how she'd look at me when I tell her the truth?

"I'm here. Don't forget that." I slowly approached her, watching her actions—to see if she would push me away. She didn't. "I'll always be here." I ever so gently nuzzled my face against hers. Because I love you too. I pulled away to see her face. She was completely shocked. Her hand extended towards my head, as if trying to stroke my mane.

"Shinji…?"

I didn't reply. I simply stared at her.

"This…" Hikari slightly chuckled. "This must be a dream. Yeah, it has to be." She stroked my head like she normally does, her fingers going through the fur of my mane softly. "I think Arceus has finally decided to give me a break from all those nightmares." She spoke through little hiccups. "I'm glad it's you who appeared in my dream, Luxray. Thank you. You probably won't know this when I wake up because you know… you're just a dream."

I never took my eyes off her. I just continued to stare, letting her stroke my mane.

"Can you stay just a little longer?"

I nodded. "Go back to sleep. You're going to need a lot of energy tomorrow." I walked to the head of her sleeping bag and lay there to reassure her that I'll be there.

"Yeah. I will." She pulled out a blanket from her sleeping bag and wrapped her around it. She then leaned against my torso, her head leaning against my mane. "Is it okay if I can sleep like this?"

"Why not." Once she fell asleep, I was planning on walking back out after tucking her back into her sleeping bag. "I'll be here until you wake up." Hikari smiled and snuggled up into my fur. Of course, she fell asleep minutes later. I wouldn't be surprised after that emotional breakdown. She must've been holding back a lot if she's had nightmares for a while. I dug my head into my paws as I also curled up around her. I watched the way she slept. The way her face relaxed, the way she tended to curl up into a ball, the way her shoulders moved up and down as she breathed.

My eyelids closed against my will, and I fell asleep.

In my dream, I met Xatu. The world around us was white, and Xatu was standing in front of me. I was still a Luxray in the dream.

"It seems you're faring well, young one. How has the Pokemon life been for you? Any changes?" Xatu greeted.

I gave him a small sigh. "Well, thank to you, there are a lot of things I've learned about Pokemon and… some other things." I smirked a little and shrugged. "But it's been a good time." I look at Xatu for a while before speaking up again. "Is it time?"

"Perhaps." That was the only thing I heard from him before he opened his wings and shone brightly. I closed my eyes, prepared for the result. Once the light dimmed, I looked at myself. I was back to my human self in front of him. The purple mane had shrunk to my usual purple hair, the yellow eyes turned back into my onyx ones, no tail, no rings, no Luxray features. Just my own.

"Finally." I grunted, stretching my back and cracking my neck a little. "It's great to be back and all, but… how am I going to explain to Hikari and Jun about Luxray's sudden disappearance?" I looked at Xatu, hoping for some answers. "You got any ideas, Xatu?"

Xatu was silent. "There is no death, only a change of worlds."

"What do you mean by tha—" Before I had a chance to ask, Xatu disappeared. The white world around me slowly began to glow a blinding light. I shut my eyes and covered them with my arms, unable to handle the light.

My eyes snapped open. It was just before the sun was about to rise from the horizon. I heard the Pidoves beginning to stir and wake up, ready to chirp their morning song. My eyes scanned my surroundings, registering the details in my head. I was in Hikari's tent. I facepalmed. Fuck, I completely forgot that I sneaked in here to comfort her. Wait. I facepalmed.

I carefully brought my hand away from my face and into my vision. It was my hand. I gaped in surprise. That was no dream. The transformation was real. I slowly squeezed my hand into a fist to make sure it really was mine. I felt all the muscles and bones move, and I knew I was finally human again. I breathed out, staring at the ceiling of Hikari's tent for a minute. I couldn't believe it. I was finally human.

Xatu's words reverberated in my head: There is no death, only a change of worlds.

Just what did he mean by that?

A soft moan came from beside me. I looked to the side. My heart jumped to my throat before I was able to do anything else. I bit my tongue to prevent myself from making any sounds. Hikari was sleeping next to me. I had also forgotten that I fell asleep with Hikari sleeping on my torso. I took another minute to gather my thoughts together and soundlessly moved away from her. I was sure she was a somewhat heavy sleeper, so putting her back in the sleeping bag should've been easy.

I carried Hikari carefully into her sleeping bag, making sure not to wake her. I tucked her inside her sleeping bag and took one last look at her. My hand brushed some of her blue hair strands away. "I'll be back," I whispered.

With that, I sneaked out, zipped the tent, grabbed my bag, and ran into the deeper part of the forest. If I was going to be a human from now on, I had to think. I had to go somewhere quiet and think. I've never experienced panic before, and I definitely didn't like it. An image of myself as a Luxray appeared in my head. All the details that I knew of myself as a Luxray was suddenly flooding back into my head. By the time I arrived to a clearing in the forest, I realized something was different.

I was back into a Luxray's body. "What's going on…?"

Once more, Xatu's words resounded. "There is no death, only a change of worlds."

"Is this what he meant? Pretty literal, if you ask me." I smirked as I wagged the tail I thought I'd never see again. "Even then you're willing to help me out, huh?" I heard the Pidoves begin chirping. The sun was finally rising.

This meant I could change back and forth at will. I figured there could be some sort of uncontrollable consequences or side effects to this. But it didn't matter. All I knew was that I can change back if I wish. I didn't plan on abusing this power though. I swore to revert into a human in dire circumstances. Yes, I'll do just that.

With this resolve strong in my mind, I travelled back to camp. I felt calm as I walked through the woods. I've never felt such peace in the past few days, and this was an unexpected change from all those chaos. I thought I'd do something else for a change and started hunting. Not prey. Just berries.

When I finally arrived to camp, the two were already packing.

"Luxray, what the hell!" Jun shouted. "When I woke up, you were gone! I almost went looking for you in the forest! I should fine you for this!"

"See, I told you he'd be back!" Hikari teased. She sent me the most peaceful smile she has ever made. "So, where'd you go, Luxray?" I blinked and took off my bag. I unzipped it open to reveal berries. "Did you get those for us? How sweet!" She approached me and collected my bag. "Good Luxray!" She patted me as usual with a bright smile. "We're almost done packing, so wait just a little longer, okay?" I nodded and proceeded to lie down in the shade. But her fingers lingered on my mane. I looked back at her, pretending to be confused. "Hey Luxray… Do you maybe… remember anything from last night?"

Ah, I knew it. She was definitely going to go there. Her eyes seemed to contain a little bit of hope, even though she thought it was all a dream. I blinked and tilted my head. I had to pretend I didn't know what she was talking about.

"Thought so…" Disappointment flickered in her eyes for a second before she smiled again. "Don't you worry! We'll be in Driftveil City in no time!" She dug into my bag and took out some berries. "Here, have some while we pack, okay?"

I watched her pack as I took bite out of an oran berry. I felt a pang of guilt inside, but it was for her sake.

Sorry. Next time, for sure.

~.~.~

A/N: I wrote this chapter as a sort of character development to Shinji and his experience as a Pokemon. I like to think that he's grown into a more mature and wiser person that way. Also, I acted on a headcanon I have about Shinji that he's an introvert who thinks about literally everything inside his head and doesn't speak up much about it. That's why there's a lot of emotion within his thoughts. And hey, more love for you ikari readers~

I finally decided to introduce Shooti in here, but I thought that Hikari is much more experienced in strategies compared to him. That's why the battle ended up the way it did. She's done this longer than he has, so it's obvious she'd be stronger, right?

Tell me what you think of this chapter and what you expect in future chapters! I'm sorry for updating so late, but please expect more chapters to come out this upcoming winter break! Have a nice day!