This is the final chapter.
Thanks again for reading and keep an eye out for more fan-fiction I put up.
PMD: Life in Flames
Epilogue – Elisa
Elisa became aware again, to a feeling of heat. This was nothing unusual to her by this point. She was a little worried initially though when the heat started to fade away. Her mind had become adapted to being a Vulpix so it experienced some panic with the receding heat.
Eventually though, her temperature dropped until it reached a point that felt cool… but not uncomfortable.
She lay where she was, on her back, listening to her surroundings. It was almost completely silent.
She slowly opened her eyes, blinking. She found it strange, but she felt like she had gone to sleep. Being her last memory was of that wrenching pain, this surprised her.
How'd I fall asleep under that kind of pain? Maybe I passed out?
She brought up a hand and rubbed her eyes. Then it dawned on her what she was doing and she brought her hand away to see that it was, indeed, a human hand. The fact that she was on her back and not uncomfortable should've been a sign but until just then, her mind had been half-awake at best.
She looked herself over and found she was wearing her usual shirt and jeans. She brought up a hand and felt the hat on her head. She even felt around her head, grabbing a small lock of her own hair and holding out a bit to look at it. She rolled it around between her fingers. Soft and supple… almost like the fur of a Vulpix.
I'm… I'm back.
Anyone else might've whooped to be alive and perhaps, to be human again. Elisa just felt relief and settled back down on the couch she was sitting on, letting out a sigh. She took a moment to reflect on what she had just experienced.
Already… It feels like it was just a dream. Like I just dozed off on the couch, thinking I had gone to bed… and had a nightmare… or perhaps a pleasant, if not unusual, dream.
However, Elisa wasn't about to think of Rio as anything but someone, a pokemon, that she had actually met and talked with. Someone… she knew like her own parents.
Thinking about Rio reminded Elisa of what she had promised herself to do when she got back.
That Riolu… I put him outside the apartment. Hope he hasn't run off!
She sat up quickly, the designer magazine across her chest sliding off, onto the floor. She then walked quickly over to the door out and proceeded downstairs as quickly as possible.
Elisa opened the door to outside to the dark of night and the clear sounds of a fight going on.
She then heard a sharp, pained yip and she turned to look in the direction of the noise.
At the bottom of the stairs going from the landing, was a fight going on between the Riolu… and the Growlithe Elisa had chased off previously.
The fire-type dog was shy around humans, however other pokemon were a different story. In fact, the Growlithe was highly territorial towards other pokemon. As far as it was concerned, the unfortunate Riolu was encroaching on his turf.
The Growlithe's opponent was, to his credit, stubborn and loyal, and quite unwilling to back down. However mistreated he had been by Elisa, he knew this structure to be the only home he had so he would defend it to the bitter end. He was covered in burns and he while he had been trying to fight back, the Growlithe was a tough opponent and was being evasive.
"Hey!" Elisa yelled, just as the Growlithe inhaled to spit more flames at the Riolu. The dog didn't seem to hear and Elisa started forward, intending to fight the dog herself, when her foot hit something.
She looked down to see a crumpled-up, empty can of soda someone had uncaringly discarded and left on the ground. The redhead promptly and swiftly bent down, swept the disk-like piece of garbage up in one hand and then proceeded to pitch it at the dog.
It bounced off the dog's head, interrupting its attack and it shook its head, momentarily confused. That moment was all the Riolu needed. It quickly advanced and lunged at the Growlithe.
The canine tumbled away and got up, paralysis setting in. By the time it was on its feet, Elisa was down the steps and standing in the way.
"Get!" Elisa snapped at it sharply. She was prepared to kick the dog if needed, even if she got burned doing so.
That was all it took though. Cowed by the pokemon's blow and intimidated by the human, the dog backed down and ran off, stumbling a bit under it paralysis.
She then turned to her attention to the Riolu and crouched down to its level.
"You okay?" she said. She felt like she was facing Rio again, so a level of emotion got into her tone.
The blue dog, blinked, clearly a little confused by Elisa's tone, as it hadn't heard such a gentle or caring sentence come from her mouth before now.
Then it quivered, gripping one of the burns and passed out. Elisa had to quickly catch the pokemon before it hit the ground. Once again, her experience as a Vulpix resulted in her surprise when the Riolu felt relatively light in her arms. Rio had been heavy for a Vulpix to carry, but for a human, a Riolu was like handing an infant.
Elisa held back a curse and looked over the pokemon. The burns were pretty bad… there were even one or two patches of third-degree burns. However Elisa remembered that she wasn't in a pokemon world anymore. She was in her human world that had a Pokemon Center in-town. She promptly lifted the Riolu up and cradled it as she ran the pokemon down to the Center to get its injuries treated.
While the nurse at the Center handled the Riolu's injuries and treated the burns, Elisa went back over to the apartment for a brief look around to check for damages to the building.
She could see that the fight had been small, yet severe. The bushes planted in front of the apartment were crisped.
That's when an idea came to her mind.
She glanced up at the area over the bushes… there was an apartment window someone had left open. Perhaps to try and keep things cool inside without using electrical power to do so.
The chances are slim… but… if those bushes caught fire… sparks and flames could get in there… set the drapes on fire… then…
The results were easily imaginable. The fight had been close to the plants.
Was all of this coincidence? This window open? The fire system on the fritz? It just happened to be what occurred?
Elisa was only too aware that she had averted her fate of death… by simply interrupting the fight.
But then again… if I hadn't put the Riolu outside… that Growlithe wouldn't have had anyone to pick a fight with in the first place. It certainly didn't light up the plants on purpose. It was just fighting over territory…
Her observations were cut-short by the click of heels on the pavement and Elisa looked back to see the nurse from the Center coming up to inform her that the pokemon she had brought in was almost healed and only needed a little more time to recover.
Elisa nodded, thanked the nurse for the information and glanced back one more time. She felt some guilt… and regret. She had brought about her own death it seemed… in a roundabout fashion. And the Riolu had likely died trying to defend itself alone.
I've changed that now though… and I'm not going to let it happen again if I can help it.
Elisa took firm hold of that comforting thought and followed the nurse back to the Center.
Half an hour later, Elisa walked back into her apartment, gently leading the fully-healed Riolu inside by the paw. Once they were inside, she turned the Riolu around and crouched down again so she was eye-to-eye with the pokemon. After all her time with Rio, Elisa was used to being on this level with any pokemon and it felt more normal to her than talking down to any of them.
Elisa was about to apologize to the Riolu for her behavior towards it, when she noticed the pokemon's expression seemed downcast.
"Hey, is something wrong? It's not your fault, I was being unfair to you. I am sorry about how I was treating you." She started. The Riolu gently shook its head though and reached out towards her face. It was a slow, gentle move; no aggression. Curious what it wanted, she leaned forward a little to allow it to do so and its paw gently came to rest on Elisa's cheek.
A moment later, an odd feeling of guilt flowed into Elisa's mind. It was weird as the guilt felt instinctively out of place in her mind. Like it wasn't her guilt, it was someone else's. After a minute, she realized as she looked at the Riolu's expression, that it had just transmitted its feelings into her mind.
"Did… did you do that?" she blinked, stunned. She actually had been experiencing this from the Riolu before but she hadn't been so receptive then and as a result, the feelings hadn't come through so clearly.
The pokemon nodded its head in a very meek fashion. It was feeling guilty, Elisa could see that much.
I wonder… is it another aura ability they have?
At first she wondered why Rio had never told her about this ability, but when she really considered it, she realized there hadn't been a reason to. They had been able to simply talk. Communicate in the most straight-forward manner possible. Now that she was human though, this was more or less the only way the pokemon could talk to her.
Once she had figured this out, she turned her thoughts back to the pokemon in front of her.
"Nothing's your fault. What do you have to be guilty about?" she said, giving it a kind smile.
The Riolu pointed to a spot somewhere behind her and Elisa glanced back. She saw a chair and a few other decorations and amenities of the house but nothing seemed out of place… though Elisa thought something was missing from the wall.
The pokemon then walked over to the chair and stepped behind it where Elisa couldn't see it for a moment, and then it came back out from behind the chair, carrying something. Elisa stood up, walked over, and crouched back down to get a better look at what the Riolu was holding.
It was a small pile of shattered plastic and bent metal.
It was only after looking over the mess and finding a couple of batteries (which were somehow still intact) that Elisa realized what she was looking at the remains of.
"Is this… the smoke detector?" she said, staring at the pile in astonishment. The Riolu reached out and touched her again. Elisa felt a foreign sense of curiosity wander across her mind… then she jumped little as a feeling of surprise hit her quite suddenly like someone had jumped out and scared her.
She considered the feelings the Riolu was sharing with her… then:
"You… were curious about the smoke detector here?" she asked, the Riolu shrugged, it expression conveying a message along the lines of "Well, I suppose so."
"And it startled you…" Elisa finished. The Riolu nodded and then indicated the mess between them.
It only took Elisa another couple of seconds to realize what had happened… and when she did, she had to hold in her laughter. It explained what was missing from the wall.
It was conceivable that the Riolu had climbed up on the back of the chair and, in its curiosity, had gone prodding the machine. No doubt in Elisa's mind, it had hit the button for testing the smoke detector and the resulting noise had most definitely frightened the little pokemon, who had reacted by smashing it. After that, he had tried hiding his handiwork but was feeling guilty for destroying something around the room.
Elisa, to the Riolu's confusion, found this extremely funny. It reminded her too much of a child just exploring and reacting in panic to a mess they thought they had made and were in deep trouble for.
I didn't hear him doing any of this, so he must have done it when I was out on the town earlier.
Once she had subdued her fit of laughter, Elisa refocused on the pokemon, a bright smile on her face.
"Alright, so you did do something wrong, but I don't blame you for it. I guess you didn't know what it was. Don't worry about it though." Elisa assured the pokemon, who almost immediately exuded feelings of relief.
Elisa then stood up and looked around. She was going to get used to being human again.
It was while Elisa was doing some cleaning up around the apartment (getting used to walking on two legs and using her hands again), that something interesting came to light.
The pokemon apparently figured out what Elisa was doing and decided to try helping out. It started picking up any garbage left on the floor and helped Elisa with disposal. She had to stop it once or twice from throwing away something that wasn't trash but after a little while, it had a sense of what was trash, and what was not.
It was doing some cleaning up around the couch when it suddenly let out an excited yip and was staring eagerly at something it had picked up.
"What's gotten into you all of a sudden?" Elisa said, going over to her helper. It attempted to hide the something and Elisa gave it a very unconvinced look.
"What did you find?" she demanded gently. It was hesitant to show whatever it had found but finally Elisa got the blue dog to bring its paws out front. What it had, gave Elisa a bit of a start.
In the Riolu's paws, was a red cloth… and on the cloth was an exploration team badge. It was the same one Elisa had been wearing the entire time she had been on a team with Rio. Elisa had, in fact, long forgotten that she had been wearing it. The badge was quite small in her hand now and the cloth certainly wasn't long enough anymore to tie around her neck. It would've probably fit quite well on her wrist though as some sort of bracelet.
"Where did you find this?" Elisa said, blinking as she gently lifted it from the Riolu's paw. If it had come with her when she had been taken back home, she was a little surprised the cloth was still intact, considering how much fire Elisa had been dealing with all that time.
The Riolu had a resigned look and pointed back at the fashion magazine that was on the floor. Apparently, the badge had been under it, otherwise she would've noticed it sooner; so Elisa figured it must have been on her chest when she woke up and slid off with the magazine when she got up. Then another question came to mind to Elisa.
"You recognize this, don't you?" Elisa said. It was the only explanation for the Riolu's excitement over finding it. The Riolu glanced away, but slowly nodded.
How though? Elisa was immediately wondering, He can't possibly be Rio. Rio couldn't come with me.
As she was contemplating this matter, the little pokemon before her touched her again and she felt curiosity cross her mind again. It was asking her the same question she had just asked it.
Elisa smiled gently in response.
"I don't think you'd believe me… but this is mine actually." She admitted to the pokemon. As she expected, the Riolu immediately had a skeptical look as if to say "Yours? Yeah, right."
"I'm not lying, I assure you. I had quite an adventure with a Riolu like you." She said, with a serene smile on her face. Immediately, the Riolu's eyes widened and an intense feeling of wonder, curiosity and a desire to learn flooded into the human girl's mind. The Riolu clearly wanted to know more now.
Once again, Elisa was a little confused by the pokemon's excitement.
"I know it's interesting… but you're being awfully excited over this, aren't you?"
The Riolu made contact with her face once more and more complex feelings rushed into Elisa's head.
Longing… sorrow… an odd warmth in her heart… pain… guilt…
It was a lot to experience all at once and Elisa had to pull away from the Riolu after a moment to take it all in. At first, she wasn't sure what kind of message the Riolu was attempting to send her but as she looked at the Riolu again… she realized what it was trying to say.
These were all feelings that Elisa herself had been feeling about being separated from her parents. Feelings that were directed towards loved one that were gone or missing. She could see the pain of loss in the Riolu's eyes. He was thinking of someone he missed, most dearly.
Another minute of thinking on this and Elisa's mind finally connected the dots.
This Riolu missed someone… it had immediately expressed an interest in her adventure when she had mentioned another Riolu… it recognized the exploration team badge…
It was only a possibility but Elisa had to ask now:
"Do you… do you know a Riolu… named Rio?" she said. The pokemon's ears quivered and they might've straightened up slightly.
With a loud excited yell, the Riolu suddenly jumped at her and started saying a string of words in its own language, gripping her shirt desperately. Elisa of course, couldn't understand a word of what it was actually saying and besides that, its reaction to the name had startled her.
"Whoa! Whoa! Calm down! Calm down!" she yelled over the Riolu's excited clamor of words. She managed to get it to settle down and release her shirt. A minute later, she heard a knock at the door of the apartment.
"Is everything okay in there?" the person on the other side called through the door. The Riolu had made such a racket in its excitement that it had drawn the attention of Elisa's neighbor in the building.
"I'm okay!" Elisa yelled back, "Just a bit of excitement in here. I'm okay though!"
The neighbor took her word for it apparently as Elisa heard them walk away and go back to their own room.
She then turned back to the Riolu.
"Okay, so you know Rio. No need to strangle me for information though. However, you aren't Rio, are you?"
The Riolu, who was looking a little guilty for reacting so wildly, immediately and vehemently shook its head "no".
Who are you then?
Elisa gazed at the Riolu, truly curious. She spent several minutes staring at the Riolu as she went back to the puzzle before her.
If that badge exists, then what happened… really happened so Rio is real and so is anyone I met there. But I didn't meet another Riolu besides Rio and… hold on…
Once again, Elisa was working on pure suspicions. She had no proof… only ideas. And this ideas seemed nearly absurd... if it weren't for the transformation she, herself had gone through.
"Kale?" she said blankly. The Riolu blinked and looked up at her, the name having gotten its attention.
"Are you… Kale?" she repeated. It looked confused for a moment but nodded.
Oh great Arceus above… what the heck happened to him? I thought- I thought…
"How'd you end up with me here? And I thought you were a Lucario… that's what Rio seemed to indicate about you." Elisa looked over the Riolu before her… trying to see it as Rio's dad.
Kale shrugged, unable to explain by emotions.
The only explanation that Elisa could think of was quite a sad revelation.
Did… Did Ho-oh save him from death, like me? Did she send him to this world? Why though? Why send him to this world? What does he have to learn?
In the end though, Elisa couldn't think of why Ho-oh had separated father and son like this.
"So… you're Rio's… dad?" Elisa asked gently, now starting to feel sorry for him.
Again, the pokemon nodded slowly. He then reached forward and transmitted that feeling of curiosity into Elisa's mind, along with a sense of longing. It only took Elisa a couple of moments to figure what he wanted.
"Rio's okay. He was struggling along when I met him… but I think he's a great explorer now." Elisa assured Kale, "He helped me with my problems. He helped me to see what was wrong. I'm… I'm certainly never going to forget him." Elisa said, her heart throbbing slightly as she already was beginning to miss him. Kale lowered his paw and rested it over Elisa's hand. When she looked up at him again, he was smiling gently and she felt in the emotions that he knew how she was feeling.
Elisa felt herself flush a little, her face becoming warm.
"He… he means a lot to me now… and to you too. He is… your son afterall." She then glanced down at the exploration badge in her hand.
"Here… I want you to have this." Elisa said and gently pressed the cloth across Kale's neck, wrapping it around and tying off at the side, similar to how Rio had always been wearing his, "It's all I've got left to remind me of Rio… and now… you're my one connection to him. His dad." She said, her tone tender with affection. Once she had finished tying it around Kale's neck, she sat back and looked him over.
Kale flushed a little, gratitude clear on his face and flowing into Elisa's head.
Elisa's parents returned in the morning to find Elisa on the couch, with the Riolu on top of her, both of them sound asleep from the long night they'd had.
Later, after Elisa woke up, the girl took the blame for the broken smoke detector. Her parents were happy though that she was in a much cheerier mood and did not punish her. They were also quite overjoyed to find Elisa playing with and doing various activities with the pokemon Rowan had given her; not to mention Elisa declaring that she was naming the Riolu, Kale. Elisa, it seemed, had miraculously changed overnight.
Elisa never told anyone about her experience as a Vulpix (as she had no doubt no one would believe her), but she never saw pokemon as mere animals ever again. She quickly grew to have a great deal of affection for many of them, something that surprised those who knew her but they did not complain as Elisa was much more open and friendlier as a person now.
Rowan returned to check on her after a week, and found to his great pleasure, that Elisa now had an interest in becoming a trainer herself.
In truth, Elisa had found after her adventures with Rio, that she couldn't stand the idea of just sitting around the house. She wanted to get out and explore again, as a human this time. Besides that, Kale was just as adventurous as his son and was just as eager to go explore this new world he was in. Neither of them could be contained for long.
Elisa received an official trainer's license after a year's time of study and work. She promptly set out with Kale at her side on her adventure. She never needed a pokeball for the Riolu as he was loyal to her to the end.
Her journey would lead her to challenging the Pokemon League, a Lucario at her side, something almost no one had expected out of the girl. She never found Rick… however, her loss never dragged her down again and she remembered her past love with the same affection as she had ever felt.
Not once… did she ever forget Rio or her adventures with him.