I loved my Tepig. That's why I never let him evolve.

He hadn't been my starter. No, I'd gotten an Oshawott before, after carefully weighing out the pros and cons of each choice. I needed a strong Pokémon, one that would help me rise to the top and become one of the strongest trainers in Unova. Samurott was sleek and promising, compared to the other two. It had been a clear decision.

I traveled across Unova for a while before realizing how idealistic my dream was. It was a long, winding road to be a master, laced with countless obstacles and challenges. Samurott breezed by for a while, but ultimately we just couldn't keep up. There were people out there stronger than us without even trying, and I, wanting the easy way out, gave up and left the championships for them. It just wasn't worth it.

I became a collector of sorts after that. I hadn't owned many Pokémon other than Samurott at the beginning, preferring to focus my training on him. Knowing my strategy had backfired, I decided to do the exact opposite. I went around Unova catching everything I could see, raising them all, slowly, all at once. Professor Juniper enjoyed my contributions to her Pokédex.

After raising several Pokémon, I made a deal with the daycare nearby Striaton. I figured since I had so many Pokémon, they'd be happier roaming around in a field instead of cramped in Pokéballs. The daycare agreed, promising to notify me whenever my Pokémon produced eggs. They did so, a lot.

I had too many baby Pokémon than I knew what to do with, so I ended up putting them up for offer at the Global Trade Station. Doing so helped my collection immensely, and before I knew it I was taking part in the trade of rare Pokémon, thanks to my several baby Oshawott. Eventually, I managed to trade one for a Tepig.

I didn't care for the Tepig I got at first, at least, not much more than any other Pokémon. It grew for several months before evolving and producing its own offspring. As I cared for the eggs, one hatched, and captivated me more than I ever thought a Pokémon could.

That young Tepig in particular was just fascinating. He was adorable, more so than his parent, and took quite a liking to me for no reason at all. Once he grew up a little and showed some promise in battling, I bit the bullet and decided to raise him. He wouldn't let me refuse.

Tepig shone in battle against the local wild Pokémon, and was soon more than a match for them. He gave me no choice but to take him on a trip around the region, training him as we went. Everywhere we went, we'd leave dozens of burnt Pokémon behind, all to make him stronger. He was ruthless like that, but at the same time he wasn't too violent. He just shared my dream of strength, something Samurott had lacked. Samurott was loyal, but impassionate. Tepig was blazing with desire.

As much as I liked my new, powerful partner, as he reached his first evolution I made him stop. I hadn't forgotten the bulky boar that was his final evolution, and why it didn't exactly make the cut. Tepig was dismayed, but I told him gently that he could evolve later, and that he'd learn new techniques faster this way. He was eager about that, and I remember smiling at him, genuinely happy for the both of us.

As we continued to train, I grew more and more fond of Tepig and what we had been through together. His strength far surpassed Samurott's, and he was able to best nearly everything that tried to take him. There was absolutely no reason to prevent him from evolving. But time had gone on, and I still denied Tepig his wishes.

There was something about Emboar or even Pignite that bugged me. They were ugly, hideous even, with squished faces and unpleasant body structures. I had grown to love the face Tepig would give me whenever he won a battle; a look of pure bliss that I couldn't imagine belonging to anything else. Tepig was Tepig, he couldn't change or he wouldn't be himself any more. So I continued to prevent his evolution, even going so far as to make him wear an everstone. I told him it would make him stronger, and that I promised he could evolve one day. He believed me.

Time passed, and Tepig became famous for being one of the most powerful Pokémon in the region. We rejoiced upon finding this, and celebrated by doing some promotional battles at the Battle Subway. Things were great, better than they had been ever since I started training. But then someone had to ask.

"Why don't you make your Tepig evolve?"

Why? Because I love Tepig, and hate Emboar. That's why.

"He's strong enough. Besides, Tepig is cuter this way."

Tepig didn't look at me the same way after that. He kept avoiding my gaze, going so far as to fake sleeping just so I wouldn't try to interact with him. Being the idiot I was, I didn't fully realize what I had done to him until I took him to the Pokémon Center a few weeks later.

The nurse informed me that Tepig had reached his maximum strength. I was exuberant, and even Tepig looked happy at the news, until the nurse mentioned he could no longer evolve, ever.

Tepig's ears fell and I stopped grinning.

She quietly explained that Tepig had spent too long in his evolution stage, and that no Pokémon could evolve after reaching the cap. Tepig was stuck as a basic Pokémon forever, and there was nothing we could do about it.

I turned to Tepig, at a loss for words. I had never intended to remove his choice completely; I had just wanted to spend more time with the cute little Pokémon I had grown to love. He was my favourite, he always had been. I loved him.

Tepig just looked at me with disappointed eyes. He didn't need to speak; his eyes told me everything I needed to know.

I was selfish.

I was arrogant.

I had crushed his dreams because I was superficial and wanted him to be cute.

But I loved him.

"Tepig," I said, "I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt you."

Tepig turned away, and I was sure that I'd ruined our partnership forever. Because I loved him, and I thought he was cuter unevolved. I cursed, and put a hand on his back.

"Tepig…" I said, finding no words. There were none. Tepig didn't want any.

He stood up and walked towards the Pokémon Center door, giving me one last glance before leaving, alone into the world we'd once traveled together. My breathing hitched, and I had to sit down. So much for my dreams.

So much for his.

I loved my Tepig. I really did. I never let him evolve, but I should have.

He would have made a great partner, anyway.

AN: I have a level 100 Tepig, as well as a Chikorita, two Pikachu, two Monferno, and a Togetic. I plan on raising a Pichu and Shroomish the same way. Why? Because I prefer the basic forms, or already have their fully evolved forms raised. I realized how superficial this was and attempted to deconstruct it. I hope I did all right.