Guys Being Dudes

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11 | All It Takes Is A Spark

At first glance, an onlooker would have assumed the creature's body was covered in fluffy fur. Under closer inspection, its back revealed itself to be covered in leaves, from which a flower sprouted on either side. The flowers looked like they would have normally been pink, but were currently stained, displaying as a dusty reddish grey. Underneath the leaves, the creature's body was squat in form, with four stubby legs tipped in paws, a snout at the end by the flowers that rapidly tapered off, and no visible tail. It meandered between the couple before heading towards the play structure. All of the Rattata in attendance, Kantonian and Alolan alike, rapidly fled. Arlo and Spark both continued to stare at the Shaymin. Spark chimed in first.

"So...what's it doing here? They're supposed to congregate by the Gracidea fields, but we're nowhere near there; those are at the center of the park."

"Shaymin's, like, a mythical, right? Why? I get that it's got that whole folktale of being attracted to feelings of true love and gratitude and all that fluffy shit, but it doesn't seem especially powerful. And why are its flowers so dark? The Pokedex said they were pink. It didn't say anything about them changing color. Maybe this one's wilting?" Arlo had pulled out his phone and was rapidly taking notes. If anyone asked where the hell he was at Go Fest, he'd submit them for his time sheet. "I know that in most other Grass types, their flower only wilts if they're seriously ill and this one seems fine."

Once all of the Rattata had cleared from the play structure, the Shaymin took a breath. As soon as it exhaled, a flash of light burst through the playground before Spark or Arlo could even blink. The Shaymin's flowers returned to the pink color seen in the Pokedex and a rumbling sound started emanating from the play structure. Arlo, still invested in research on his phone, exclaimed.

"Ah, now I remember! It says here that Shaymin is known to purify toxins and was considered a mythical Pokemon by the ancients of Sinnoh for being able to restore polluted land to its natural state. Not only that, it absorbs the toxins into itself and converts them into power for its special attack, Seed Flare! The more toxic the substance, the stronger the blast! Fascinating!"

Spark's eyes darted to the play structure, whose support beams had been cracked by the Seed Flare blast and were starting to give out. The whole play structure lurched forward before rapidly descending. Straight toward Arlo, who remained oblivious, meticulously taking notes, his glasses aglow with multiple sources of information. Before Spark could process what was happening, he rushed toward the scene and stood over his boyfriend, intercepting the pieces of the old playground as they fell. Every one, regardless of size, Spark either threw to the side or somehow split in half at contact with him. He didn't make any thoughts or conscious motions that he could recall. Some of those pieces were big enough that under normal circumstances, he was pretty sure he wouldn't have even been able to lift them. Time and space gave out. He was out in the wild and his mate was threatened. There was only one thing to do. There was only one option. The rallying cry of thousands of years of ancestors was answered.

Trust your instincts.

The broken and somehow, charred carnage of the play structure lay scattered around Arlo. Spark, rapidly making shallow breaths, fell to the ground on his knees, utterly exhausted and his arms and legs pulsing with pain the likes of which he'd never felt before. He could barely feel them through all of the tingling. The Shaymin waddled back towards him, happily chirping and utterly oblivious to what it had just done. Among all of this chaos and having somehow not noticed what would have been death from above if not for whatever the hell Spark did, Arlo finished his notetaking and briskly chimed "Done! Giovanni's going to love this description of Shaymin's powers."

He then looked around to see the remnants of the play structure all around him, Spark behind him in visible pain, and the Shaymin, its flowers returned to the Pokedex pink. He turned towards Spark, looking over the team leader's hunched-over position and gasping breaths, and made a single comment.

"Your hair is glowing."

He took a quick picture with his phone and then showed it to Spark, who had to refocus his vision to hold back the blurring and what seemed to be flashes of bright yellow light. Whether from exhaustion, pain, or something else entirely, he had no idea. What he gathered from the photo was that his hair was, in fact, glowing. What the fuck...? Arlo then realized after Spark groaned from the headache that there were more pressing matters at hand.

"Holy shit, are you okay? What happened? I see the old playground's...gone."

Spark collapsed to a lying down position, fighting with everything he had left to be able to communicate what had happened without passing out.

"The Shaymin...exploded. It was going to fall on you. I had to..."

Spark's last sentence trailed off as he fell unconscious. Arlo put a hand on his chest in panic and verified that he was still alive, but something was clearly seriously wrong. He turned toward the Shaymin, his face flushing with rage, and readied the Pokeball containing Ronnie, his beloved Shadow Charizard. Mythical or not, this overconfident bush was not getting away with that.

"Look at what you did, you little shit! You nearly got me killed and I don't know what you did to Spark, but it sure as hell isn't good! What do you have to say for yourself?"

He wasn't sure why he was yelling at the Shaymin. It was unlikely that it understood him to any reasonable degree. Hot tears ran down his face as he clamped his sweating hands over the button for the Premier Ball. He spoke into it, his voice completely raw and happening to be at the lowest end of his range, which he would have found supremely gender-affirming if not for the circumstances.

"Blast Burn, Ronnie. Don't hold back. Show this motherfucker what happens when it messes with my boyfriend."

He released the Charizard, who started picking up wood shavings from the playground and dropping them into his tail to enhance its flames. Combined with the bright orange glow of the flames, red and purple bolts of light arced through the aura of darkness surrounding the Pokemon. This hedge-looking mythical motherfucker was going to be utterly obliterated. Then the little shit had the nerve to start walking towards Spark. Of all the audacious...probably there to gloat over its kill or start ripping apart his body. Little shit. Arlo looked forward to seeing it purged from the earth by glorious fire. He pointed in its direction and Ronnie followed, releasing a deep growl and inhaling to build up the power for the burst...

...and then a sweet smell wafted through the playground. The Shaymin's flowers were glowing pink and it called out repeatedly to Spark in what sounded like distress, although it was always hard to tell with Pokemon and Arlo's opinion of this one wasn't good. The glow from the flowers flowed into Spark's hair and Arlo saw his breathing get a little more regular. Was the Shaymin...healing him? He did recall the Expanded Pokedex mentioning it could learn Aromatherapy, among other healing moves. Along with coursing through Spark to the point that it could be seen flowing through his blood vessels and hair, tendrils of the pink glow pulsed through the playground, sprigs of grass that had been crushed by the falling play structure perking back up and growing back stronger than ever before, even overtaking the play structure. They returned dotted with native wildflowers and ground cover. Presumably Shaymin's toxin-purifying abilities also worked on the pesticides the park used. The Rattata returned from their hiding places, Spark's eyes reopened and he blearily sat up, and the Shaymin happily chirped at seeing him conscious again. Arlo stood stunned, still catching his breath and attempting to calm himself down and Ronnie flicked his tail, growling in annoyance that he went to all this trouble to build up his Blast Burn and didn't get to use it. Spark moved all of his limbs, testing their sensations and finding the numbness and pulsing tingling had stopped and took a deep breath. The first words out of his mouth reassured Arlo that he was, in fact, healed.

"If how powerful Shaymin's Seed Flare is relates to how toxic what it absorbed was and it got all that from hanging out in the hoodie...we really need to find you a different brand of body spray."

Arlo rushed toward his boyfriend and enclosed him in a tight hug, practically leaping onto him and holding on half to verify that this was real and half out of security. Against himself, he started crying and buried his face in Spark's chest without thinking about what base he had gotten to like he would have under normal circumstances. Spark responded by squeezing Arlo in return until his trembling stopped. Arlo released his death grip on Ronnie's Pokeball and pressed the button to withdraw him, his voice still shaking.

"Return. Holy shit...I know Pokemon are vicious little fuckers, but, you said that it knocked down the play structure, it started falling, and you rushed in there to save me? You did that for me?"

Spark exhaled, releasing some tension while keeping his hold on Arlo. "Yeah, I guess so. I don't even know what I did. I just kinda blacked out. Nothing else mattered except making sure you were safe. Some of those pieces are huge. I don't think I could even lift them and I was breaking them in half as they fell just to protect you. More research is definitely needed."

Spark released one of his hands long enough to tilt Arlo's head up to kiss him. "But it's okay. We're both here. I did it and I guess the Shaymin realized what it had done and went over to heal me. That was nice of it. And you said my hair was glowing? How—"

The tension in Arlo's body had released enough for him to release a sigh and chuckle a bit. "Maybe you mentioning being part Zapdos wasn't as much of a joke as you thought. The strength and speed have mundane explanations, there are stories about dudes lifting cars and stuff to save their loved ones, but that...also, I'm looking at some of the pieces now and they're not broken in half like you'd expect if you karate chopped them. They're split and charred like they were struck by lightning."

"So you're saying that I might actually be your magical girlfriend?"

Arlo was able to let a few notes of laughter escape before pushing himself further into Spark's chest. "Yeah, I guess so. If I hadn't almost died, that would be cool as hell...holy fuck, I almost died. I'd literally be dead right now if it weren't for you."

"I mean, I am the one who brought us here in the first place, so it's kinda also my fault. But hey, we're all alive, I think I've provided you enough benefits to be worth it, and now you've got something to write an angsty song about. Turning tragedy into magic, am I right?"

"I love you so much."

That was the standard thing Arlo said whenever Spark showed an invested effort in connecting with him on his level through his interests, which was true, but was also somewhat of a joke. In this case, it 100% wasn't. His boyfriend had just done something nearly impossible to save him and then answered that with comfort, a callback to a previous conversation, and a Falling In Reverse reference. Arlo loved him so much. It didn't sound weird. He kept repeating it, almost rambling simply on the subject of how much he loved Spark and it never sounded weird. There wasn't the brief jerk in his stomach from unexpected good vibes or any anxiety over whether he meant it or whether Spark truly reciprocated it or not. It was true on every level. He loved them so much. He laughed at himself realizing that he'd just played out a romcom cliche. Fully cementing your love for someone when they rescue you? What the fuck was this? But it'd be true even if he hadn't nearly died in order to cement it. It was just this that fully sparked (heh) the realization. He'd known it for a while, actually.

This wasn't the hormones from nearly dying, he didn't think. This was real. And he was thoroughly grateful for...everything. Spark being down to go on their ridiculous fake date, being accepting of everything despite him being evil, attempting to connect with him based on his interests, even those he did not share, his coworkers being...oddly accepting despite his history with Candela, which he simply didn't get. All of it was perfect. It was true. It was a dynamic he'd never had before. Not only was Spark hot as all get out, they connected. They vibed. They could talk about anything. He could call them his best friend, a title previously held by a giant, metal-plated bug. Not quite the same thing. He was alive. He was grateful. If he wasn't so filled with rushing emotions and good vibes, he'd have made a Goodbye Graceful reference. While Arlo was marinating in good vibes, a truly bizarre situation, the Shaymin crawled into his bag, which had been left by the picnic table, pulled out one of Arlo's spare Pokeballs, and waddled back over to him and Spark, carrying it with difficulty. The Shaymin laid it at his feet and chirped.

Spark pointed in its direction, which was helpful since Arlo likely wouldn't have noticed otherwise.

"I think it wants you to catch it."

The Shaymin was nudging the button on the Pokeball with its nose, seemingly trying to figure out how to activate it. If Arlo didn't catch it, it appeared to be trying to catch itself. Arlo exited the embrace and crouched down next to it.

"Look, you little shit. We're not friends, got it? While I get that you just needed to release the toxins you absorbed, I'll see about getting different body spray, I guess, you did nearly kill me, so don't think everything's hunky dory just because you healed Spark after he hurt himself saving me. Now, I'm 110% down to catch you, but I want to make sure you understand what you're getting into. See this?" He pulled out his phone and logged into the Team Rocket intranet, showing the Shaymin the logo on its startup screen.

"It means I'm evil. I am a professional dealer of bad vibes and doer of horrible things. Most of my Pokemon have their animum fucked with so they literally radiate dark auras of concentrated bad vibes. My business cards literally say 'professional douchebag' and I joined a crime syndicate just to get back at my ex and stayed, enthusiastically doing evil, because of the healthcare plan. You are a cute, flowery creature of good vibes. Do you really want to get involved with a guy like me?"

"Shay!" The Shaymin let out a chirp and nudged the button on the Pokeball with its snout, successfully capturing itself. Once the Pokeball made its final flash, Arlo pocketed it.

"Huh. I didn't think that would work."

Spark applauded without the slightest trace of irony. "Okay, never mind that your crouching down to talk to it was adorable. My dude! You just caught a Mythical Pokemon. Not only that, but the 2022 Go Fest mythical. You know, now that I think about it, it's really weird that these critters appear at the same time every year. Regardless, Giovanni had better give you a raise for this."

Arlo blushed upon hearing the word "mythical" in reference to Shaymin, thinking back to the research he was doing before he nearly got killed by a falling playground, and realizing the implications if the stories about it were true.

"So, if Shaymin's associated with feelings of love and gratitude and stuff and it appeared to me, that means that, like, it's decided that whatever we have going on here is True Love (TM). Guess I can't hide behind emo posturing anymore." Arlo specifically pronounced the two letters in the trademark sign, prompting a nose exhale from Spark.

"Yep. Sure does."

"Well, it's not wrong."

Arlo shrugged before breaking into laughter and with Spark back in good condition, they resumed their activities from before the Shaymin and a near-death experience had interrupted them.


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