Chapter 30: Epilogue: A Homecoming of Sorts
Welcome to Val's Head
Eventually, I realized that crying never solved anything, and I decided that I needed to get back to the Guild.
I have to tell them what happened.
I slowly walked along the path, until I came upon-
"The Stoneship," I said it aloud out of habit. I almost looked back before I realized:
I'm alone again.
I suddenly felt apprehensive. Almost as if that this would be the final nail in Chris's coffin.
"No. I need to go. I need to be brave; it's what he would've wanted."
I stepped onto it, and it instantly started taking me away.
I let my thoughts drift, and before I knew it, I was walking up to Lapras.
She sailed up to me and asked, "Are you okay?"
I nodded. "They're gone," I said plainly.
"Come on, let's get you home."
I climbed on her back, and even though it was around noon, I ate a Sleep Seed, and I slept all the way to Treasure Town without any dreams.
I wonder if that's what death is. Peaceful blackness.
When I woke up, Lapras was looking at me intently.
"You're home, Val," she said.
I climbed off and bid farewell to Lapras as she swam away.
I started the walk back to the Guild as the sun started to set.
It was just like this when we came to start our team.
I looked up, and I was already at Wigglytuff Guild.
When I stepped onto the grate, Diglett and Loudred started their routine.
I didn't listen, but Diglett popped up to greet me. Everybody else came out immediately after, but they all had a puzzled expression, because someone was missing.
At long last, Wigglytuff came out with a knowing expression, and said to me, personally:
"I know you lost him."
Suddenly, the Guild burst into sympathetic remarks towards me.
In response, I merely said, "I think I need some time alone."
I retired to my crew room without a meal.
In that first week, everyone thought they had to console me for my loss.
Even Team Skull sent a letter expressing their "sincere condolences."
As time went on, life returned to normal. I decided to take up sharing the story of what had happened at Temporal Tower.
Somehow, I felt that it might make the world a better place. Or at least keep Chris alive, somehow.
Wigglytuff and Chatot approved, because they said it would help me get past my grief.
Months passed, and Flora and Steele came back to visit.
When they spoke to me, they carefully danced around the subject of Chris, instead sticking to things that had happened after I came back.
Not much had happened on my side, but they had become some of their Guild's best explorers.
Flora and Steele offered to let me come with them when they left to head to Roselia Guild again, but I decided against it.
I couldn't stand leaving.
One day, I decided to head to the beach.
I passed by Bidoof and Corphish on my way out.
"Hey, hey, hey," said Corphish, "where are you heading?"
"I'm going for a walk," I said.
"Well, don't take too long," said Bidoof, "I told Corphish to come back because it's almost dinner, yup, yup!
I walked down to the beach. At the beach, the waves were slowly lapping against the sand, and the Krabby were blowing bubbles which each individually reflected the sunset. All in all, it was quite a sight.
"Oh, it's still just as beautiful as the last time I saw them," I said.
Suddenly, I realized just when the last time I saw the bubbles was.
I though back to that time.
"The last time, was when I first met Chris, wasn't it?"
I looked over to where I found him. All there was to greet me was sand, and the entrance to Beach Cave.
Our first adventure together.
I walked over to that spot in the sand.
"This is where I asked him to start an exploration team," I said to myself.
"...do you want to form an exploration team with me?"
"What's that?" Back then, I didn't truly believe he used to human, to be honest. But his confusion there was genuine. So I told him what it was anyway.
It took a little convincing, but eventually, he responded with the answer that started everything.
"Alright then, I guess I'm in."
I thought back to all our adventures together.
"Hey, Chris, can you think of a good team name? I'm drawing a blank here."
"Um... Team Checkmate. It just sounds right."
"Okay," said Chris as we prepared to jump into the water fall, "We go on three. And don't hesitate. One, two, THREE!"
We ran, and then we jumped. "WAH!"
"Are you seeing it, Chris? It's magical. Promise me you won't forget," I said as we sat on the shore of Fogbound Lake.
"I promise on my soul, that I will never forget this. As long as you don't forget this." He gave me a kiss to the cheek.
I didn't forget, Chris.
"So, is it alright if I call you Val?"
As he approached, Grovyle said, "Now, get out of the way, Valerie." When I held my ground, he continued, "So you refuse, eh? Then forgive me."
He almost got me, but then, an Aura Sphere hit him in the face. I'm not sure if Chris remembered he did it afterwards, because that's when he fainted.
The older Chris said, "Now look at me, and don't tell."
I curled up next to my Chris and said, "I'm scared."
"Me too," he said as he pulled me close.
"Ahem. Now that's out of the way," said Chatot, "I shall tell all of you our plans for searching for the Hidden Land."
"You cooked one up so quickly?" asked Chris.
"Uh, no," said Chatot, "We were going to base it on whatever information you have on the possible location of the Hidden Land."
Chris gave everyone a sheepish grin. "Oh, well, that's kind of funny, because, you see, we have no clue where it is."
Everyone groaned, and I smiled at how stupid he was back then.
"Remember back on the beach before we left?"
"What about it?"
"You said you fell in love once. Who did you fall in love with?"
I chuckled a little. "You still don't know? I'll give you some more hints."
"Like I said before, he's kind, and sometimes really stupid. He's also super cute..." I walked up to him and put my paw on top of his ears. "...about this tall, and he's crazy."
I sighed. "It's you, silly!"
"What?" He was so shocked, that I nearly burst out into laughter. "I'm cute?"
"Yeah! You're okay with that, right?"
"Of course! Uh, well, I-I mean, well, uh..."
I laughed, "You are such an idiot. So you like me back?"
"Yeah, it's just-" I knew now what he wanted to say, but couldn't.
"Come on," I said encouragingly, "We're partners, you can tell me."
"I-I kinda like you."
"Oh, really?" I asked, "What do you mean 'like?'"
"Uh... Um... I, uh,-" At that point, I tackled him and gave him a kiss.
I quickly pulled away, and I told him, "That was the first time I kissed a guy."
"Same here." He had a blank expression on his face, then quickly added, "I mean girl!"
"I know what you mean, stupid." I hit him lightly.
"You know, at the beginning of all this, I couldn't wait to leave. But, you know what?" Chris asked as he was enveloped by the light.
"What?" I asked.
"Now I don't want to say goodbye."
"Neither do I," I said through tears.
"But, even though you gave me the best time of my life, I have to say it." I could tell he was trying to be strong, but even as he smiled through his tears, I could tell that his heart was breaking. "Goodbye, Valerie."
And when the light became too bright, I closed my eyes.
And then he was gone.
"Hey, hey, hey! I've been looking everywhere for you!" called Corphish.
It was then that I realized that my memories were all I had left of Chris.
"Val, is something wrong?"
At that point, I collapsed.
"I miss him," I sobbed, "I miss Chris, Corphish. Why did he have to disappear?!"
I sobbed, and this time, I wasn't sure if I was ever going to stop.
In Another Place
After the light subsided, I found that I was kind of, just, not there.
It was peaceful, not having to think. I barely knew who I was, not that I really cared. I'm not entirely certain how much time passed.
I remembered one thing though.
It was an image.
Sitting at the edge of one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, a ginger-furred fox with six tails was smiling at me.
For some reason, I felt happy and sad at the same time when I thought about her.
Eventually, I came to.
I sat up on the ground to someone staring at me. He was a Grovyle.
"I knew you would come here eventually," he said.
I still hadn't gotten my thoughts together, so I looked around. I was on a white plane. Infinite in all directions, but shrouded in fog.
"Grovyle?" I asked eventually as I got all my thoughts back, "What are we doing here?"
"I think that this is where you go when you are erased from time."
"Are we the only ones here?" I stood up. I was still a Riolu, so Grovyle still had some height on me.
"I'm afraid so."
I looked around one more time. "Well, now what?"
"I've never actually given any thought to what we would do when we succeeded," said Grovyle.
"So, what happened on your side?" I asked.
"Oh, it's a long story," said Grovyle.
"We have a very long time."
Grovyle proceeded to detail to me a lengthy story involving Dusknoir, shotguns, handcuffs, stains on a couch, a big rock, a red menacing button, the end of the world, and a man wearing a bowtie and fez.
Not in that order.
"Wow," I said, "That must've been something."
"What happened to you and Val?"
"You know, we saved time," I said. I then grinned and bragged, "I shot Dialga in the face."
"You killed him!?" Grovyle seemed shocked.
"I was shooting blanks," I defended.
"Where did you get a gun?"
He sighed. "I'm almost regretting doing this."
"Yeah," I said, "Victory sucks."
We just stuck around for a while.
Eventually, Grovyle said he'd look for some others.
After he left, I dozed off quickly. When I woke up, Grovyle still wasn't there.
"Grovyle?" I called.
A nearby voice said, "He is gone." It was a deep male voice, and the way it spoke was very impersonal.
I looked around, but I couldn't find the source. "Gone? What do you mean gone?"
"He left you, just like you left her," said the voice.
"Sh-shut up! That's not my fault!"
"You kept it a secret! And now you've broken her!"
"No! I didn't-"
Suddenly, I saw Val on the beach, crying as Corphish tried to calm her down.
"Val!" I yelled.
"You can't return."
I cried, "Screw you!"
"She cannot be yours."
"Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!" I put my paws over my ears and closed my eyes.
"You cannot be a part of her world." That voice was persistent.
"I wish I could," I sobbed, "I wish that I could be with her again."
The voice suddenly stopped. After a while, someone else spoke. They sounded like a little kid. "Are you sure you want to go back?"
"I've never wanted anything more," I said.
The voice told me, "Open your eyes, Chris."
I opened them, and suddenly, I realized I was covered in the same light as from before.
"What's going on?!" I asked.
Someone flew in front of me. I could see who I was talking to, at last.
Jirachi said, "I'm granting your wish."
Suddenly, the light blinded me.
When I regained my vision, I could feel sand beneath me.
I looked around. I was on the same beach where I met Val.
I looked ahead, and I could see Val crying while Corphish tried to comfort her.
I started to walk towards them. Corphish looked up, and his jaw dropped.
I placed a paw on Val's back and asked, "Why are you crying, Val?"
She said, "Because, you disappeared and-" She suddenly realized who she was talking to. "Chris!" She turned around.
I tried to think of something to say. Something witty and charming and funny, but the best I could muster was:
She tackled me, and started crying. I joined in.
But that wasn't because we were sad; it was because we were together again.
And for that one shining moment, under the Krabby's bubbles and the sunset on the beach, everything was perfect.
A/N: WOO! I've finally wrapped this story up. I can finally say that I completed what I started. Anyway, I hope I didn't butcher this part up, either. If you have a bone to pick about what I've written, why not review? And if you don't, why not review anyway?
Anyway, it's been a real fun time. I'm going to take a break, now. Maybe someday, I'll continue this, but right now, for the sake of my mental health, I'm going on hiatus.
So, for a while, but not forever:
This is CrizBN, signing off.