I worried about him sometimes. Constantly bumping into walls, scraping off the scabs that covered his knees and staining the denim fabric of his pants an ugly shade of maroon. I worried about the purple-stained bags under his eyes. Despite the beds we often came across, I’d never seen my trainer sleep. Humans need to sleep, right? I worried about the fossil, too. It had a pretty spiraling shape- pretty, but not pretty enough for Red to have reason to stare at it constantly and run his fingers over the contours of it with a crazed, obsessive look in the deep scarlet eyes he was named for. Even though it was just a rock, he looked at it with so much fiery-hot passion and intensity. Maybe it was because he was troubled, as the whispers of those who thought they were out of earshot put it. He heard voices in his head, millions of horrible, awful voices, Charmeleon said with a twinge of pity in her voice. Maybe that was why I had to fret about him like this.
I worried about him during our fateful trip to the pokemart. He was stuffing pokedolls into his bag at an alarming rate, depleting his wallet almost completely before he managed to buy what we’d come here for: a stone that would allow me to evolve. As far as I’d been told by the senior ‘mons of the party, the plan was to buy a water stone, enabling me to become a sleek and graceful vaporeon with the ability to cross water. I wouldn’t have minded that, but the fates seemed to have different ideas. Red snatched up a fire stone and hastily, jerkily pushed a wad of bills over the counter before ambling out of the shop, wincing at some loud noise only he could hear. I wondered why he’d bought the wrong stone as the rest of the team whispered worriedly among themselves. Maybe it was because he was troubled.
I never really thought about the stone as we continued our erratic journey. Red was rifling through the pockets of his backpack in no particular order again. Maybe he did it to make sure everything was there. Suddenly, the fire stone was in his hand. He considered the item for a moment before his facial features softened for a moment. He got down on his knees to be on my level, and I returned his eye contact. “Eevee,” he whispered, his voice harsh and crackly from disuse. “Be my flame. Be the light that can guide us through this asinine adventure.” I- What? What about vaporeon? What about surfing together, leaping through the white sea foam with Red in tow? But… if it would make him smile, even for a moment. I tentatively reached out my paw to contact the translucent orange stone, and I felt the light of evolution wash over me. Heat, power, majesty flowed through my systems, unable to be contained and busting out into an impressive wispy mane and dying my fur a noble crimson.
Even I could hear the screams in Red’s head at that point. He gritted his teeth, futilely jamming his hands over his ears, arching his back in pain, screaming to drown it out. My evolution didn’t make him smile, it- I- I made him cry. I- I failed. I failed as a partner. I failed as a friend. Oh, that’s too bad. He’ll have to replace you. Wha- who said that? But… they were right. My chest felt constricted, and my heart beat so fast, like it was trying to escape. I was going to stay with Red, whether anyone liked it or not, I thought, noting Charmeleon's glare.
That night, paranoia seized me like a huge, clawed hand, digging through my skin and into my lungs. Would Red really replace me? The disdainful glances I caught Rattata shooting in my direction told me yes, he would. I couldn’t stand that… Despite his affliction, Red loved me. He said it himself; I would be his guiding light, his flame. We would be champions together, no matter what.
Well, you’ll have to make sure you don’t get booted from the team then, hm? That lapras looks awfully promising… I choked down a sob. I had to make sure there was no reason for my trainer to consider using another ‘mon over me. It was me or them. Someone else would have to go. You’ve got your new powers now. It shouldn’t be hard to eliminate a competitor. Unless you’re weak? This voice was… It was sinister, it was trying to goad me on, but it was right. My knees were locking up with apprehension, but I was strong now. Charmeleon and Rattata were conversing quietly in the corner of the pokemon center, Charmeleon fidgeting with her tail, Rattata nervously grooming his whiskers. Red didn’t need them anymore. He already had a fire-type, the most fiercely loyal fire-type in all the world. He had better than that pokemon who spoke of him with doubt in her voice. I sprang forward and dug my teeth into Charmeleon’s neck as a red haze overcame my vision, the voice chuckling in the back of my mind, the metallic taste of her blood in my mouth. I’d gotten lucky and hit a major artery. Rattata, who had been paralyzed by fear, sprinted off to get help as the flame-tailed lizard’s blood decorated the tile floor. Ha ha. Our base speed is higher. I easily caught Rattata, pinning his tail with a powerful paw as I spat up white-hot embers onto his prone form. They tingled in my throat, made pleasant sizzling sounds as they burned away flesh and fur. I- I did it. A laugh bubbled up from inside me as the haze started to dissipate.
Red stumbled in, and his features soon contorted into an expression of abject horror, followed by grief. He slowly, oh so slowly, bent down to inspect Charmeleon’s corpse. A tear fell from his eye, followed by another one, followed by a salty deluge. I- I- I killed them. I killed two innocent pokemon. Red’s head turned slowly towards me as I shrunk into myself, overcome by an immense wave of guilt. It was that voice’s fault! Not mine! You promised to love me unconditionally, Red! But the expression of sheer sorrow snapped me out of my twisted mindset. They didn’t deserve to die. I promise, I’ll make it up somehow- Red, hand shaking, recalled me into my pokeball with a cry of anguish. We walked to the PC by Nurse Joy’s counter, Red still cradling Charmeleon’s lifeless form like some sort of doll.
Once released, Flareon is gone forever. Release Flareon?
The last thing I felt was my essence ebbing away on the digital tide.