"Do me one last favour… And don't you cry!"
Those words stuck in the mind of the lone Mudkip, who was now stumbling back towards Serene Village with the heaviest of hearts, trying so hard to keep himself composed because someone had to let the villagers know… Had to let Carracosta know… That his best friend was… That Ozzy was…
Nobody could have predicted how that morning was going to go. Ewan and Ozzy, the newest members of the Expedition Society, a young Mudkip and a Treecko who saved the world from Dark Matter, who were supposed to be together forever… This wasn't how Ewan wanted this to go. This wasn't how it was supposed to go.
If any of them had to leave, it should have been him, returning to the human world as he'd theorized. But finding out that Ozzy was originally the ancient Mew, that he had his spirit reborn as a new being and that, by accepting Dark Matter and eliminating it, he was also eliminating himself…
The world was too cruel. And as he came into the village, his eyes wandering up to the houses nestled on the hills, it still hadn't sunk in. That Ozzy wasn't… That his best friend wasn't coming back. Was this why they had their memories erased, so that they would go through with the plan to defeat Dark Matter without worrying about the consequences?
A flash of anger shot through him at that – The Mew of the past and the Treecko that was his friend, they weren't the same person. Ozzy was reborn, he'd said it himself – The part of him that was Ozzy didn't want to give up on his dreams, wanted to stay in the Pokemon world with Ewan. How unfair was it that Ozzy had no choice in his fate – That from the moment they both came to this world, they had set in motion a fate they had no way avoiding.
They had grown so close over the last few months, from friends to best friends, to teammates. There was a bond that simply couldn't be replicated with any other Pokemon, Ewan was willing to stay in the Pokemon world if it meant he could be by his friend's side. But this… He didn't want to stay like this…
His paws dragged him up towards the bridge that led to his home, to Ozzy's home, his footfalls growing heavier as he realized once more that he'd have to explain the whole situation to Carracosta. He'd have to explain why his son wasn't coming home any more.
"O-Ozzy," He choked out, trying so hard to keep his emotions in check. Don't cry, that's all he asked. He couldn't…
But he couldn't run from this. Sooner or later, everyone would find out the truth. Better to get it out of the way now, right?
With that in mind, he walked past the house that he had stayed in with Nuzleaf, heading straight to the blue-accented home of Carracosta, to Ozzy's home…
"Ah, Ewan, did you find Ozzy?" Carracosta asked once he noticed Ewan stepping through the doorframe. Ewan could see a small spread set out for lunch, three portions. Ewan's heart clenched. "I made you two some lunch."
Though as Carracosta turned to really look at the Mudkip who had just walked into his home, alarm bells began to ring in his mind. The way Ewan stepped so tentatively through the doorway, like he was scared, concern shot through his body.
"Ewan, what happened?" He asked, voice lower, tone serious.
Ewan said nothing, staring at the ground, trying to find the words to express the situation. His vision was beginning to swim and he could feel his breathing beginning to quicken. Carracosta's eyes were boring into him, though while serious, he could feel the water type's fatherly nature kicking in.
"Ozzy didn't say something bad to you did he?" Carracosta asked, trying to feel out the situation. He wouldn't put it past his son to put his foot in his mouth, even with someone as close to him as Ewan, but he'd never seen the Mudkip this worked up before.
From all the times he'd known Ewan, the Mudkip was always the more quiet reserved characters of the troublesome duo, but he'd always held an element of emotional maturity that kept him from getting too down about situations. So if Ewan was as visibly upset as he was, Ozzy had to have said something pretty harsh.
Finally, Ewan croaked out, "N-No, he didn't," his voice low and timid, no strength behind it at all.
Ewan was surprised at how weak his own voice sounded. He was upset, god he was upset, but he thought he was better at composing himself. That's why Ozzy asked him not to cry, right? Because he could handle the pain, he could bottle it up and let it out when the work was done. So why…?
"Ewan, where's Ozzy?" Carracosta asked, leaning down to look the Mudkip in the eyes.
Ewan could see the visible concern, the fear that was beginning to make it's way across his features. It hurt, it hurt so much to have to tell him the truth. But it had to be done.
"Gone where?" Carracosta replied, much to Ewan's emotional frustration.
Ewan shook his head, closing his eyes for a moment to focus, he had to explain properly. He wasn't doing a good job and he could tell.
"Did he run off to some Mystery Dungeon or something? Did you two have a fight?" Carracosta asked, his questions getting louder. Ewan could hear it in his voice, that fear that no parent should have to voice.
He shook his head once more, taking a deep breath as he stared up at the turtle who had become a father figure to himself as well, before stating, "He's gone."
Carracosta's face ran pale as he heard those words, the realization that Ewan was bringing, dawning as he frantically began to run through what on earth could have happened. "Wha… How… Ewan, what?"
"He went up to the hill because Xerneas showed up," Ewan whispered, trying his best to recount the story without breaking down. "Xerneas told Ozzy the truth..."
"The truth?" Carracosta parroted, lost beyond words, his blood ice cold with fear.
"You found Ozzy as a baby, right? It turns out he was the reincarnation of Mew," Ewan exclaimed, bitterly spitting out that last name as if it were a curse word.
"It's true..." Ewan muttered, shrinking back from the ferocity of Carracosta's shout, feeling his legs beginning to tremble from underneath him. "We defeated Dark Matter because Ozzy accepted the negativity, tried to grow from it. And that destroyed everything related to Dark Matter… And… Ozzy, he..."
Ewan could feel the tears, he could feel his vision beginning to swim as his emotions threatened to overcome him. He practically choked back a sob as he attempted to finish his story. "...Dark Matter was created through the negativity of Pokemon and Mew was the first… His spirit was the first… With Dark Matter gone, he… He had to..."
At that moment, everything began to click in Carracosta's mind. What Ewan was saying, what he had been saying the entire time, Ozzy's lineage and everything lining up – He didn't want to believe it, that his son was a mythical Pokemon in a past life, but it made too much sense. But that revelation meant nothing upon Ewan's next words.
"He had to vanish too..." Ewan finally uttered, feeling the tears beginning to spill to the floor as the Mudkip felt his body wrack with sobs, all of those emotions he had been bottling up over the past hour finally coming out in a deluge of pain.
He couldn't handle it anymore. He didn't want Carracosta to see this, to see him breaking down. Without a second to think, he turned tail and sprinted outside, stumbling towards his own empty home, slipping inside to hole himself up in his room, the one place where he knew he could let it all out without feeling himself be judged.
He felt awful, he knew Carracosta would have more questions, but he just couldn't answer them. It was still too raw, too fresh. Everything seemed to sting and the hole in his heart wasn't going away any time soon.
But Carracosta didn't have any questions at that moment, too shocked at seeing Ewan's breakdown to really process what had just happened until it was too late to call the Mudkip back. He could feel his own body shaking, the realization that the lunch he had prepared would go to waste being the first thing to hit him, followed by the dawning realization that nobody was coming back.
His eyes instantly turned to his son's room, noticing the beds set out where the two young Pokemon had slept the night before.
Had they known then? Had Ozzy had an inclination as to what would happen to him?
No… His Ozzy was destined for greater things. He always had been, no matter how much the village tried to beat down his dreams in the early days.
And when Carracosta had told the boy the night before how proud he was of him… How could he have known it would be the last moment they would share together.
Silently walking into the room of his child, he leaned down against the wall, allowing himself to slide into a sitting position as he realized with a grim finality that Ozzy wasn't coming back, that his son wasn't coming home.
And he silently cried, grieving for the loss of his child, an unmistakable void in his heart where his pride had once stood. "You fool..." He uttered into the silence of the bedroom.
Neither Ewan nor Carracosta were seen for the rest of the day, nor the evening after that. The townsfolk were concerned of course, but they had no idea what the pair were going through, so they left them to it. Ewan couldn't bear to talk with anyone, holing himself up in his home and refusing to answer anybody's calls.
He even ignored the Expedition Gadget's attempts to pick up, wanting nothing more than to be left alone with his grief.
Carracosta, while in so much pain, still found it within his heart to leave a small meal outside of Ewan's doorstep, well aware that the young Mudkip was probably going through the same pain as himself, and through the hurting and the mourning, he couldn't help but try to ensure that the child in the village without a parent had someone looking out for him.
Towards the afternoon of the second day since Ozzy's disappearance, that was when a knock at the door startled Ewan out of his melancholic stupor, glancing over at the door with what could only be described as the desire to be left alone for good. He knew this wasn't healthy, that it wasn't what Ozzy wanted, but clearly nobody got what they wanted out of this and he couldn't find himself to care any more.
So he couldn't help but shoot up in surprise when the colourfully winged Archen walked in. Honestly, it was the last person he expected to show up to the village, but with it came the reminder that he'd eventually have to explain what happened to the Expedition Society.
"Goodness kid, you look a mess," Archen stated, trotting over to him to get a closer look.
"Why are you here?" Ewan muttered.
Archen pointed to the Expedition Gadget that was haphazardly tossed to the side. "That's why. You didn't answer any of our calls and it's not like you two to miss a call. Speaking of which, where's Ozzy? I checked over at his home but nobody answered."
"He's gone," Ewan replied silently, surprised at how easy it was to utter the phrase after all of his emotions had flooded out the day before.
"Gone? Did you two have a fight, do I need to smack some sense into you both?" Archen stated, folding his wings together.
Ewan shook his head before muttering, "He's gone."
"Ewan," Archen stated, kneeling down next to the Mudkip, getting a close look as he realized just how upset the Mudkip must have been to be looking as he was. "What do you mean?"
"He means my son is gone," A voice from behind him stated, Archen whirling around to find the formidable Carracosta standing at the door to the room and while he looked seemingly fine at a glance, Archen was quick to notice his eyes tinged red and the way his body seemed to sag.
"But how?" Archen asked, looking between the two water types with a mixture of confusion and shock. Ozzy just was gone? How could one of the best recruits to the society they'd ever had be gone?
"That's why I'm here," Carracosta replied, looking over at Ewan, who refused to meet his gaze. "Child, I'm not here to scold you. Yesterday was tough for the both of us, we lost someone very dear to our hearts, but you're the only one who knows the full story. I…"
Carracosta stopped, choking down his emotions to keep his voice level. He needed to be strong for the boy his son had admired so heavily, for Ozzy's sake and for Ewan's. "...I need closure. To understand."
Ewan could only nod silently, understanding all too well how Carracosta was feeling. He knew yesterday's explanation wasn't good enough.
And so, with Archen and Carracosta, Ewan explained what had happened with Ozzy. How he had his doubts about staying this world and how he wanted to remain here with Ozzy. How they had to find a way for him to stay. How Ozzy had revealed that he'd gotten things backwards, that he was actually the reincarnation of the ancient Mew and how they had planned all of this from the very start.
He explained everything about their plan, about defeating Dark Matter and ultimately about how Dark Matter being erased also meant that Ozzy had to vanish as well for Dark Matter to truly be defeated. He explained Xerneas's role in all of this and how Ozzy had to give up on his dreams before they became a reality… About how Ozzy wanted Ewan to continue his dream and be happy…
"Tell Pops not to be sad," Ozzy whispered as he held Ewan close to him. "I know he'll take it rough, he's a big softie really. But he gave me a life, gave me a home, gave me a family… He makes so many people happy and I don't want this to change that."
"Why can't you say goodbye yourself?" Ewan asked, looking up at his friend in disbelief. "I… I'm not you..."
"Honestly, Ewan," He replied. "If I see my Pops… I won't be willing to leave. And then it'll be more painful for all of us." Stepping back, Ozzy gave one of his patented smiles, looking out towards the village, towards his home. "But I know you and Pops will be alright. You'll continue helping people. That's all I want..."
"He truly said that?" Carracosta asked, disbelief in his voice, close to tears as Archen held a wing around the poor father.
"He did," Ewan replied with a smile and tears of his own.
"That's so like him, refusing to face me when he does something I don't like," Carracosta chuckled through sobs.
"He drove everyone else forwards at his own pace," Archen added on with his own tearful smile. No doubt the rest of the Society would also be saddened by this news, but Archen found he was glad he got to find out here in the privacy of Ewan's home.
He was the first person they were paired with from the Society on their adventure to Baram Town and he'd seen first hand how Ozzy was on expeditions, how the pair worked so well as a team. Honestly, it was inspiring, so to find out that such a light had gone out, to look at the connection orb and see Ozzy had vanished…
"What will you do now?" Archen finally asked once they had finally calmed down from the emotions they were feeling. He was looking at Ewan, but his question was directed at the pair of them. "Ewan, you're free to come back to the Society when you're ready. We wouldn't force you to come back after…. This..."
"No, no I… I can't stay here," Ewan admitted, glancing up at the pair with sorrowful, yet shameful eyes. "I've been wallowing here. Ozzy wouldn't want that. I'd rather get back to my work so I have something to focus on."
Archen nodded in understanding before looking over to Carracosta.
"Will you be alright?" Ewan asked.
Carracosta shook his head. "No, not for some time. But I'll cope. Someone needs to let the village know and I can't let you do that, I'm his father after all. But… If you need a place to stay or someone to talk to, I'm here."
Archen and Ewan left the town the next day after Carracosta was grateful enough to cook the pair some food. Archen stayed at Carracosta's home as per his request, but Ewan wasn't ready to spend a night in Ozzy's room. The wound was fresh and he decided to stay at Nuzleaf's home, wishing that his own caretaker would return so he could explain what had happened.
He didn't think he'd miss Nuzleaf after his betrayal, but knowing that it all came from Dark Matter, it was fair to say that he was willing to forgive. Even if he wasn't willing to forget. It may have come down to wanting someone familiar to just hug, but he had to admit he wasn't exactly comfortable with the thought of going to the Society for emotional support, nor anyone else really.
Of course, Carracosta was an option, but Ewan felt he'd ruined the old turtle's life enough and the guilt inside of him kept him from considering consoling himself with the turtle beyond what he had already said.
If Ewan was being honest, he wasn't a very emotional person. He didn't like to share his feelings, yet the Pokemon world was full of people who wore their hearts on their sleeves – Completely different from the human world, or so he felt.
So when they got back to Lively Town and explained everything to the Society, it didn't take Ewan long to put on his facade, to act like nothing was wrong and that he was ready for work. Burying himself in his connection expeditions was his way to avoid the pain for now, though every morning he would often find his thoughts drawn to his lost partner, feeling the scarf around his neck tighten as he remembered the good times and the bad.
Ozzy was a once in a lifetime friend and he wanted him back more than ever. But eventually, he'd have to move on, perhaps even find a way to return to the human world if he truly wanted to. He wanted to stay in this world with Ozzy, but staying in this world like this… It just wasn't right.
And so months passed…
"Perhaps a visit to Xatu might help."
"Seek out Mew in the Mystery Jungle..."
"This Mew doesn't know who I am, or who Ozzy is…"
"Mew, are you okay, Mew!?"
"Wha- Where's Mew?"
"Purifying Cave? That's where Mew's been taken?"
Ewan was desperate when he finally made it to the final floor of the Purifying Cave, breathing heavily as he glanced around for some sort of signal as to where Mew was. It was extremely dark though as he fumbled his way forwards, wondering whether this really was the final floor or if the dungeon guide had lied.
"Oh, there's something up ahead," He thought aloud. Though as he got closer, the limp pink form of his newest companion Mew was floating in the air before him.
His breathing quickened and he burst forwards, desperate to get to his new friend who was just a child, but he found himself stopping in his tracks when a certain voice filled his ears.
"Stop! Stay back, Ewan! Don't you touch that there Mew!"
His blood ran cold. He hadn't heard that voice in months, a voice he wished was back in Serene Village, in his home, but who was hear instead, waiting for him to show up.
"Nuzleaf!" He shouted out, the familiar form of his old guardian, as well as the three Beheeyem companions he had with him appearing from the gloom. "Then the one who attacked me in Serene Village, the one who kidnapped Mew, it was all you?"
"I'm mighty sorry, Ewan," Nuzleaf grimaced, a genuine look of pain on his features, much to Ewan's surprise. That was unexpected. But looking at his old guardian, he couldn't help a wave of anger burning up inside of him.
"Y-You vanish for two months and NOW you say you're sorry!?" Ewan shouted out angrily, feeling his emotions coming to a boiling point. He was so on edge and now his old guardian came out of hiding after he needed him most? "I needed you the day that Ozzy vanished," He seethed, not caring that his old caretaker was practically sweating in his boots. "And you… You weren't there!"
"I-I know I've caused you no end of trouble, child..." Nuzleaf admittedly, looking down guiltily. "Truth is… I didn't want to have to do this. But we've gotta wipe out that Dark Matter once and for all!"
"We can't take any more!" The Beheeyem Ewan had led through the Prehistoric Ruins cried out. "We caused so much hurt to good Pokemon."
"We just can't go through that kinda thing again!" Nuzleaf continued.
Ewan was trembling, many different emotions rushing to his head. Anger, upset, fear… He could understand their motives, but even so… This Mew had done nothing wrong. This Mew didn't know about Dark Matter or Ozzy, this Mew was innocent and didn't deserve this.
And at that moment, Mew's form began to glow, wisps of blue purifying light engulfing the child's body.
"M-Mew!" He called out, dashing forwards like a big brother attempting to save a sibling, only to be held back by Nuzleaf.
"I'm sorry Ewan, but it's gotta end! You've just gotta accept this!" Nuzleaf begged, the lights around Mew glowing even brighter, much to Ewan's horror.
And for a moment, Ewan allowed himself to wonder. Was this truly the right thing to do? Did he really have to accept that Mew was about to be lost? And as Mew began to flash, his mind began to reel.
He could see Ozzy vanishing in a ball of yellow light, he could feel the pain of Carracosta and the rest of the villagers, he could sense the turmoil inside of him bubbling over and the desire to live in a world where he didn't have to accept this.
"No!" He cried out, pushing against Nuzleaf. "This isn't what I want! I want us to stay together! And if Dark Matter comes back, I'll beat it again!" His voice rang out with such ferocity that nobody could doubt his validity. "I-I can't do that again," He stammered, the emotions, the pain welling up, like a wound being freshly opened. "I don't ever want… to have to say good-bye again!"
In that moment, a bright green flash of light lit up the room, Ewan shielding himself from its light before realizing it was coming from the very scarf fastened around his neck – His Harmony scarf. And over by Mew, a similar light was radiating.
Moments later, the lights shot away from each other, Ewan realizing quickly that his scarf was gone, only for the lights to converge, practically illuminating the room in a jade green blaze.
"Wha- That's..." Nuzleaf's voice petered off though, Ewan's hearing going tunnel visioned as his sense focused on the light in front of him.
It was forming, what was… Could it be?
And then the light began to dim, spreading across the cavern with a shimmer, leaving behind the unconscious form of a Pokemon. And Ewan could already feel the tears as he stumbled forwards towards the familiar grass type, who was spread out in front of the other Pokemon.
"O-Ozzy…?" He asked tentatively, terrified that if he reacted any more than that, that the whole incident would reveal itself to be just a dream.
"Oh, so that's Ozzy. Y'know Ewan, when I was sleeping, I could feel it," Mew was saying. "Your desperate wish, Ewan."
"M-My wish?" He asked, confused.
"That's right!" A familiar voice announced, Ewan spinning around in surprise and confusion to see Ampharos, Xatu and Mawile all standing behind him. Just how long had they been there?
"I'm sorry Ewan," Ampharos admitted. "This was all done… just to lead you here."
"I saw it," Xatu stated. "I saw Ozzy sealed within Mew. I saw Mew's collapse. And I knew that it was not because of any hidden fragment of Dark Matter. It was because Ozzy still remained."
"If only the barrier could be broken… Ozzy could return to this world. But it would be up to the strength of Ewan's feelings in the end… That is what Xatu felt. Archen let me know how you felt after you arrived back from Serene Village, Ewan," Ampharos explained. "You were hurting, so much..."
"I had no idea..." Ewan muttered, still in a daze.
"That's when Nuzleaf and the Beheeyem came to talk with us. They wanted to make up for what they had done to you, Ewan… They had been searching all this time for a way to repay you. So when they heard from Xatu that there might be a way… A way for Ozzy to return to this world… They volunteered on their own to play this unsavoury role."
Ewan couldn't even think in that moment. He had just blown up at Nuzleaf for abandoning him, but in reality, they had planned all of this to reunite Ewan with Ozzy… It was almost laughable…
"They tricked me into coming along with them, promising it'd be fun, and that's how I ended up here," Mew explained gleefully. "But you know what? I'm glad I did! Sorry about beating on you all when I first realized it was a trap!"
"Yeah..." Nuzleaf smiled awkwardly, rubbing the back of his head where Ewan could make out a bruise, probably Mew-inflicted. "That was a situation, indeed. You whupped us good, kid. But that don't matter. Xatu, it really did work, right?"
"You need not worry," Xatu answered. "Ozzy is back. I imagine consciousness will return soon to Ozzy."
"Y-Yeah?" Nuzleaf stated, eyes shining, voice wobbling. "Well, ain't that somethin', y'all?! We finally went and did what's right… I'm feelin fine as cream gravy!"
Ewan wasn't surprised to see the Nuzleaf's and Beheeyem's burst into tears at the announcement, glad to have found some way to atone, even if there were still talks to be had when this was all over.
But none of that mattered as Ewan noticed movement beneath him instantly dropping down to his knees to look at his partner who was just beginning to stir.
"Ewan…?" Ewan couldn't help the tears from falling as he heard that familiar voice call his name. He'd resigned himself to never hearing that voice again, but here he was.
"O-Ozzy!" He exclaimed, quickly nudging his Partner into the biggest hug of his life, much to Ozzy's surprise.
"Wha- you could warn me first?!" Ozzy exclaimed, though his voice betrayed the happiness he was feeling as he leaned into the hug, wrapping his arms around his Mudkip friend with joy. "I had a whole monologue about how we're meeting again and it was because everyone helped an-"
"Say your monologue later," Ewan mumbled into his friend's chest. "I've missed you so much."
He was surprised though, to feel Ozzy's tears dripping onto his head fin, glancing up at his friend, whose eyes were shining with tears. "I missed you too Ewan… Thank you, Ewan… Thank you so much," He whispered. "Thanks for bringing me back, only you could..."
When the pair finally separated from their hug, they were still leaning on each other, clearly unwilling to let go for the moment, though Ewan found himself surprised to see that Ampharos and Mawile were brushing away a few stray tears of their own at the display of affection, though when Ozzy noticed Ampharos, he quickly froze before spluttering, "C-Chief, sorry I've been gone for so long!"
Ampharos didn't reply, instead staring at them, but the stare didn't last long as the starting Pokemon suddenly realized their Society Leader's intent. Only Ozzy could barely move and Ewan was exhausted mentally and physically from the dungeon he'd just faced.
So when Ampharos barrelled forwards towards the pair, they both were ready to accept their fate as soon-to-be purifying cave wall decorations, only to be shocked when Ampharos managed to actually wrap his arms around them without knocking them 500 feet into the air.
"I am glad to see you both happy," Ampharos whispered to the pair of them. "There is always a place in this world for the pair of you."
"I'm glad you're back too Ozzy," Mawile stated from where she was standing, beaming at them. "I missed your ability to translate the old texts, but I expect with you back, we'll be able to breeze through some of my new research notes."
"Straight to the point, as usual," Ozzy chuckled, but Ewan could see the gratefulness in his eyes. He was so glad to be back.
And Ewan was glad to have him back. But his eyes glanced over at Nuzleaf, who was looking at them awkwardly, like he didn't know what to do.
"Nuzleaf," He called out, getting his guardian's attention. "Would you like to come with us? I'm sure we'll need to head back to Serene Village to share the good news, you said you'd go back after facing me."
"Well I reckon yer right," Nuzleaf nodded gratefully.
The large group of Ewan, Ozzy, the three Beheeyems and Nuzleaf all decided to stay the night at the Expedition Society, Buizel and Bunnelby giving up their bedroom for the group, electing to bunk in with Archen.
Though before everyone could get some sleep, Archen had pulled Ewan aside after dinner.
"I'll wait up for you in our room, Ewan!" Ozzy had called out, waving to his friend before skipping off towards the bedrooms.
Ewan was surprised then, to find himself clutching Archen in a hug just outside the dining hall. Of all the Society members, he was the only one who had an idea of just how bad Ewan's head had gotten during the last few months and turned out to be his closest confidant.
"I take it everything's going to get back to normal now?" Archen asked, waggling his brows as he gestured towards his and Ozzy's shared room.
"Y-Yeah," Ewan smiled, and this time it was a real genuine smile. "I think it is."
"I missed that smile of yours, Kid," Archen replied, patting the Mudkip with a wing. "But if anything comes up, if you ever need someone to talk to, I'm here to listen."
"Thanks, Archen," Ewan whispered. "There's just one thing left to do."
"Carracosta?" Archen replied, Ewan nodding. "I'd pay to see his reaction to Ozzy being back."
"We're trying to keep it a surprise," Ewan admitted. "I know it might be a bit cruel, but Ozzy's the one who suggested it. Probably just wants to surprise his Pops..."
"And Nuzleaf?" Archen asked. "How are you feeling about him?"
Ewan snorted. "As good as you can when your guardian almost killed you, but made amends and is trying to be a better person. I won't hold anything against them, but I won't pretend it'll be easy to slip back into life as if nothing happened."
"You'll find a way," Archen nodded. "Well, I best get some sleep. Don't stay up too late talking with Ozzy, y'here."
"Sir, yes sir," Ewan laughed.
Moments later, Ewan walked into his shared bedroom with Ozzy, almost expecting the bed to be empty, or for Mew to be there instead, but much to his relief and happiness, it was Ozzy, his best Treecko friend, sitting over by the window, watching the stars outside.
"What are you looking at?" Ewan asked, walking up to settle down right beside him.
"The stars, I missed them. And the food too, and everything, I missed everything," Ozzy rambled before turning his bright yellow eyes to his partner. "And I missed you..." The way he whispered it seemed much more private than their display in the cave. Ewan couldn't help but feel touched by his friend's compassion at that moment.
"Don't ever leave again..." He whispered back, leaning his head against his friend's shoulder. "I… I wasn't in a good place when you left."
"But you kept going," Ozzy replied. "I may be the reincarnation of Mew, I may be super upbeat and hopeful and I might drag you into things, but out of us two, you're the one who can carry on better," Ozzy admitted bashfully.
"Did I just hear you compliment me, Ozzy?" Ewan asked in faux shock.
"Wha- Hey, I always compliment you!" Ozzy spluttered. "I'm not that self-centred am I?"
"You had a monologue ready for when you came back after being up for less than ten seconds," Ewan deadpanned, though secretly he was just feeling happy about being able to tease his friend again.
"My brain is fast," Ozzy countered lamely, though the smile on his face said it all.
God, Ewan had really missed this.
They watched the stars for a few more minutes, neither one of them really wanting to sleep, but eventually, they knew they'd need to rest for the day ahead. "So my Pops… How has he been?" Ozzy asked tentatively as they moved over to their one bed, wait what?
"Uh, before that, why is there only one bed in here?" Ewan asked, glancing over at his guilty-looking friend, who had proceeded to start staring at the floor awkwardly.
"Well, I… Uh… It's been so long and I just… I didn't want to sleep alone my first night back..." Ozzy admitted, face flushed from embarrassment. "I can change it back if you wa-"
"It's fine," Ewan admitted. At this point, he just wanted to lie down, his muscles were aching and they had been practically joined at the hip that day anyway so for one night he was fine with them sleeping in the same bed.
"Great!" Ozzy exclaimed happily, practically pulling the pair of them down into their large bed. "Looks like we both just hit the hay for the night."
"Did you just..." Ewan groaned, bopping his friend with one of his paws in annoyance. "I guess I should have left you inside of Mew."
"I know you well enough to know that's sarcasm now!" Ozzy gloated, feeling proud of himself for not instantly getting upset or thinking it wasn't a joke.
"Still, we should sleep," Ewan admitted. "We've got to reach Serene Village by dinner tomorrow, I sent a message to Carracosta that I'd be coming back through Pelipper."
Ozzy's eyes widened as the two Pokemon stared at each other in their shared bed. "You sent a letter to Pops?! He's been okay right? His cooking better not have gotten worse!"
"His cooking's fine, as always," Ewan chuckled though he wasn't done.
"Ah, thank goodness," Ozzy sighed with relief.
"He's missed you too," Ewan replied, quieter. "He and I took your vanishing the hardest… He loves you so much, you know that."
"Well, if me vanishing hit you both the same way, does that mean you also love me?" Ozzy asked mischievously, that familiar prankster's glint in his eyes.
"Go to sleep," Ewan grumbled, pawing at his friend's face before shutting his eyes, much to Ozzy's annoyance. Ignoring him was a sure fire way to get under his skin, after all.
"Spoilsport," Ozzy mumbled, settling down beside him. "Still, I can't wait to see Pops tomorrow. Not seeing him before I left, it was one of my biggest regrets…"
He didn't get a reply though, cracking an eye open to see that Ewan had fallen into slumber, though Ozzy couldn't say he was surprised. Based on what everyone had told him, Ewan had been working himself to the bone since he'd vanished, so if he could let his friend rest for the moment without needing to worry about anything, he would.
"Thank you again, Ewan," Ozzy whispered before drifting off into his own sleep, a small smile plastered on his face.
The journey back to Serene Village was surprisingly peaceful if a little rough. Ewan, Ozzy, Nuzleaf and the Beheeyem all said goodbye to the Expedition Society, with Ampharos telling Ewan to answer the Expedition Gadget this time if they call, much to Ewan's embarrassment, but once the group had left Lively Town, they decided it would be best to take a different route to the village.
It had been Nuzleaf's request - He'd wanted to slip into the village without much commotion and Ewan couldn't help but agree with his desires - They also wanted to keep Ozzy's return a secret until they could get to Carracosta's house since Ozzy seemed adamant on surprising his Pops with his return. So they decided that rather than enter via the town's main entrance, they would instead come through via the forests to the tree on the big hill.
That hill had become synonymous with so many memories, both wonderful and painful, in Ewan and Ozzy's lives that it felt fitting that they would return via that view to the village that day. And as they walked the familiar road back to the village, Ewan noticed that aside from himself, everyone else was feeling the tension as they all fiddled with whatever they could, trying to keep their spirits at a reasonable level of excitement.
Ozzy was clearly the most excited, desperate to see his hometown again after having been gone for the last few months and the way he hopped around, breaking into excited grins whenever he thought the others weren't looking said it all.
Nuzleaf was a little more nervous than excited, wringing his hands together while the Beheeyem nervously floated along behind him. He had already been accepted back into the village the last time he was there, but still, there was guilt behind those eyes - The eyes of someone who probably felt that there was no way they could make up for the pain they had caused.
Ewan couldn't help but pity his old guardian, but if there was one thing he was sure about, it was that everything would work out in the end. The Pokemon World had a habit of having everything work out in the end.
It was when the afternoon began to drag on that Ewan found himself stopping in his tracks. Ozzy glanced back, wondering why his friend had stopped, noticing they were at the edge of a small lake beside a waterfall.
Ewan couldn't believe they'd actually found this place. What a coincidence that they'd have to pass it to get to the village, but if his reaction was surprising, Nuzleaf's reaction was an intense shame.
"Ewan, what's wrong?" Ozzy asked, hopping back over to his partner, who simply stared out into the waters of the lake, the same way he had that first day.
"This lake's where Ewan went and woke up when he first came to the Pokemon World," Nuzleaf explained, walking up behind them, eyes downcast.
Ozzy turned to Nuzleaf in surprise. "You mean this, this is where it all began?" He turned to Ewan, who seemed to be deep in thought. "I never thought I'd see the place where you woke up, Ewan. I guess I, or I guess Mew, could have transported you closer to the village, haha…"
Ewan turned to his friend, rolling his eyes at his friend's attempt at humour. "I think I'm fine with how it happened," He replied. "Had I not met Nuzleaf, regardless of how our meeting was a setup, I might never have met you. Everything could have gone differently."
"Well, when you look at it that way," Nuzleaf muttered, his frown perking up ever so slightly. "I guess I gotta agree."
"We should keep moving," One of the Beheeyem called out, pointing to the sky. "It will be getting dark soon and we want to reach the village before nightfall."
They almost reached the village at their intended time, though as it turns out, even with their experience in the field, Ewan remembered the original journey from his waking place to the village taking at least a day or two, so even if they knew how to navigate and were faster than they used to be, it was still a while before they made much progress.
So by the time they reached the hill that overlooked the valley where Serene Village lay, it had already turned to twilight, the sky darkening and the stars shining brightly. This almost guaranteed that nobody would notice them as they entered the village though, so perhaps this was for the best.
"We're home…" Ozzy whispered as he took in the village from atop the hill.
"C'mon, let's go," Ewan stated, leading the group of Pokemon down the road until they reached the tree on the hill. "Nuzleaf, do you mind going on ahead?" Ewan asked, suddenly. Nuzleaf gave him an odd glance, but Ewan glanced over at Ozzy, who was staring at the hill with an odd look and the older Pokemon consented.
"Just be done soon. You'll be keeping ol' Carracosta waiting." With that, Nuzleaf and the Beheeyem trundled off down the path towards the village, Ewan glancing over at his Partner who had already begun to walk up the hill towards the tree.
"We're back…" Ozzy whispered once they had both settled on the top of the hill, looking across the Serene Village with glistening eyes. "I told myself I wouldn't cry about this."
Ewan hadn't even noticed that Ozzy's eyes were glistening with tears, moving closer to give his friend a much-needed hug as Ozzy continued to look out on the village. "It's not wrong to cry," Ewan whispered.
"I know," Ozzy replied. "I just… Last time I was here, I felt like I wanted to burst into tears. And then I told you not to cry, but really I think those words were for me." Ozzy brushed away a few of his stray tears, trying to perk himself up. "I really am sorry, Ewan. For putting you through that."
"It's fine," Ewan replied, having probably said those words to Ozzy more times in the last day than he'd ever had before. But he was happy to give Ozzy the comfort - They were inseparable partners after all and nothing was more important than letting Ozzy know that he'd done nothing wrong. At the end of the day, he was young and probably scared, knowing he'd vanish. It was a feeling Ewan was sure no Pokemon, young or old, would know how to really cope with. "I don't blame you…"
They stayed silent after that, allowing the wind to blow across their faces as they watched the village lights begin to twinkle on. Though he could see Ozzy's eyes were trained on the blue accented house on the hill, where his father was probably waiting.
"Are you ready?" He asked his friend, Ozzy nodding. "Let's go see your Pops then."
Returning from his evening market run, Carracosta hurried back through the village, intent on cooking a lovely meal for himself. He'd thrown everything into his cooking and into his work on the fields since Ozzy had vanished, trying to keep his mind busy. He'd mourned the loss of his child, but two months on the wound was still raw, in a way.
Like it had scabbed over, yet every thought of Ozzy had that scab being picked away to leave the pain as fresh as it had ever been. The other villagers were supportive though - Roselia had left him some flowers, Kecleon had given him some free merchandise, even the kids were helping out on the farm when they could.
Even though his child was gone, the community of Serene Village had rallied around him to ensure he was never lonely and always needed. He couldn't help but feel grateful for the people he had come to know across the years - Though his mind often wandered to the poor Mudkip that his Ozzy had come to know and care for.
When last he saw Ewan a few days before, the Mudkip had come back with a new friend - Who he revealed was the Mew of their time. He almost mistook Mew for Ozzy for a brief moment, the Mew following Ewan around in the exact same fashion as his son used to do.
It was a sobering moment for the Carracosta, who felt happiness for Ewan having found a new friend, but also an intense pain. Had Ewan simply replaced Ozzy with a new Pokemon? Did he really care about Ozzy at all, or was it just the lack of a friend that was hurting him? Though after Ewan had left, promising to talk with him later on that day, Carracosta scolded himself for such thoughts.
He knew Ewan was a good kid, was a brilliant influence for Ozzy and would never step a toe out of line. Whatever was going on, he knew he needed to keep supporting the kid, otherwise, Ozzy would never forgive him.
Only Ewan never came back to talk with him. Hippopotas had told Carracosta later that Ewan had rushed out of the village in a desperate hurry, so he had to assume it was an emergency. But still, he wished the Mudkip could have returned if only so he'd have someone to talk to who understood what they were going through.
Shaking his head, he tried to clear his mind, knowing that Ewan was a strong Pokemon. He had an entire Society looking out for him, after all. But while brushing away his thoughts, he was surprised as he walked across the bridge leading to his home, to see a familiar face opening the door to the home next door.
"Nuzleaf?" He called out, the smaller Pokemon jumping in surprise before glancing over at Carracosta with wide-eyes.
"Carracosta! I thought you'd be cookin' up a storm at home?" Nuzleaf explained, pointing to his home where he realized he'd left the lamp on before he left. No wonder Nuzleaf thought he was home.
"I was just out buying a few ingredients," Carracosta explained, gesturing to a small pouch of berries he'd purchased. "You're back for good then?"
"Yup," Nuzleaf replied. "I met with Ewan. That kid, we made up good and proper. He's over on that there hill right now, actually."
"Well, why don't I treat you and Ewan to a meal?" Carracosta asked, eyes lighting up at the thought of having someone to cook for again.
"I might just have to take ya up on that there offer, Carracosta," Nuzleaf smiled somberly. "I'll let Ewan know when he gets back."
With a nod, Nuzleaf went to head inside, but not before Carracosta offered a last word, "We all forgive you, you know that. You're always welcome here, Nuzleaf."
Nuzleaf didn't reply, though Carracosta couldn't say he was expecting one, hobbling over to his home to prepare food. If he was having company tonight, he was as well make the food extra special.
If only he knew.
Ewan and Ozzy stole into the village quietly, making sure to stay clear of any windows or lights, managing to make their way to Ewan's home without so much as a whisper from any of the townsfolk, much to their relief. They didn't need to be crowded the moment they got back, after all.
They slipped into Ewan's front door, finding Nuzleaf sitting at the table in the main room with a thoughtful look on his face.
"Ah, you two're back," Nuzleaf said perkily as they walked through the door.
"Mhm, where are the Beheeyem though?" Ewan asked curiously, glancing around for the floating Pokemon.
"They stopped at that there old barrow on the lake," Nuzleaf shrugged. "Something about ghosts."
Ozzy's eyes widened with glee, "That means Solosis and Litwick are still living there, Ewan!" The Mudkip nodded, confirming the Treecko's theory, much to his excitement.
"Ol' man Carracosta's invited us over to dinner, Ewan," Nuzleaf then stated, a small smirk appearing on his face. "Just wait till he sees your plus one."
Ewan couldn't help the groan at his guardian's wording but ultimately agreed. "So Ozzy, how do you want to do this? It was your idea to surprise him."
Ozzy shrugged, much to the other two's frustration. "I uh, didn't think this far ahead. I was convinced Espurr or someone would catch us sneaking into the village, haha."
"Of course you were," Ewan grumbled.
Nuzleaf was the next to suggest something. "You two Kids should go over there first. Ol' Carracosta will want to see you, Ewan."
"Right…" They agreed, deciding to get this over with.
Without another moment to spare, Ewan and Ozzy left Nuzleaf at the house with him promising to come over after the reunion for that dinner Carracosta had planned. They sneaked over towards Ozzy's home, though Ewan noticed immediately how much Ozzy had tensed up when they reached the house's wall.
It was only natural for him to be nervous - He was seeing his Dad again after two months apart, after both of them thought they'd never see each other again. Though Ewan imagined the guilt Ozzy was feeling over not saying goodbye to his Pops was definitely the biggest thought going through his mind.
Still, he had to be strong, for Ozzy and for Carracosta, so Ewan took the initiative and headed inside first, with Ozzy waiting outside for a good moment to enter.
The first thing that hit Ewan was the smell - Roasted berries, cream gravy, various different foods set up and cooked. Carracosta hadn't lost his cooking edge, that was for sure.
"Evening, Mr Carracosta," He called out, the tall turtle Pokemon spinning around at his voice with a welcoming smile on his face.
"Ewan, you're here already! And Nuzleaf, is he…?"
"He'll be over later. He had a few issues to sort out," Ewan lied, hoping Carracosta would believe him. Hopefully, he was ignoring Ewan's slight tremble from the anticipation for what was about to happen.
Carracosta shrugged, "He just got back, I guess that's fair. The fool still thinks he needs to make things up to us villagers, but we're just happy to have him back, you know." Ewan tentatively stepped over to the table as Carracosta watching him with a cautious eye. "Where's Mew?"
"He went back to Mystery Jungle," Ewan admitted with a low lilt in his tone. "He was missing it, but it's fine. I think… I think I preferred working alone…"
"But you seemed so happy to have someone by your side again?" Carracosta implored as he set down another tray of berries onto the table.
"It just reminded me of Ozzy," Ewan muttered, head hanging low. He noticed the way Carracosta's eyes dimmed at the mention of his son, the turtle silently placing another plate down before walking over to the water type. "He was my Partner, after all…"
"And he'd want you to be happy, wouldn't he?" Carracosta stated, placing an arm on Ewan's shoulder comfortingly. "If he saw us moping around like this, I'm sure he'd be incredibly upset with us both."
"Or happy that we're giving him attention," Ewan mumbled.
"That he would be," Carracosta stated. "I actually thought that when you showed me Mew the other day, that perhaps he could help save Ozzy… Just the fruitless thoughts of a father, mind you."
The atmosphere went from somewhat cheerful to sombre in a single moment, though Ewan couldn't help but wonder how it would change when his son stepped through the door. "I was actually looking into that, myself," Ewan admitted.
"That why you don't have your scarf on?" Carracosta grunted, taking some berries off the fire where they were cooking. "I noticed it right away. That was Ozzy's scarf, you always wore it though."
"It… It's gone," Ewan muttered, Carracosta arching a brow at that. "I didn't throw it away though. It just vanished."
"It was stolen?" Carracosta stated.
"No, just vanished…"
"Ewan, I'm afraid items don't just vanish." Carracosta was looking at him with a disapproving glare, which he supposed was warranted. The guy thought he'd lost the only memento of Ozzy that they both had.
"But it did. Yesterday, at Purifying Cave, it vanished when I went to save Mew from Nuzleaf," Ewan blurted out, Carracosta spinning around again in surprise.
"Wha- Save Mew? Nuzleaf? What on earth happened?" Carracosta asked loudly.
"It's a long story but when I got to the bottom of the cave, Nuzleaf and the Beheeyem were planning to sacrifice Mew to remove the last shard of Dark Matter from the world… Only they weren't. They lied to me."
Ewan nodded. "They had another reason. They… They thought that it could…" Ewan allowed himself to stutter a bit, glad that he was good enough at acting to pull this off.
"That it could what? I feel like I'm asking all the questions here, child," Carracosta frowned, still clueless as to the situation.
"...That it could bring back Ozzy," Ewan admitted finally.
Carracosta blinked. Had he heard the Mudkip right? They were working on a way to bring his son back? But he was gone, everyone saw he was gone. There was no way he could come back - He couldn't allow himself to hold out hope, could he?
"Ewan, that's a cruel thing to say to a father, giving me hope like that," Carracosta stated, feeling himself tensing up.
"It's not cruel if it worked, is it Pops?"
Carracosta froze. That voice? It couldn't be? His breathing quickened, eyes darting around, trying to figure out if this was some cruel practical joke.
But when he saw the familiar figure of his own son walk through the front door, there were no words for the surge of emotions that went through his mind and body. Ozzy was standing there at the door, trembling, bright yellow eyes already watering from the anticipation. "H-Hey Pops. I'm home."
There was a clatter as the plate of food Carracosta was holding crashed to the ground, the water turtle ignoring it completely as his eyes settled only on his son. In the space of a second, he practically leapt over the food table to where Ozzy was standing, grabbing him and wrapping him in the tightest embrace he had ever given him.
"S-Son, you're back, you're back," He muttered quietly as he pulled Ozzy close to his chest, the Treecko beginning to sob quietly into his father's shell.
"I'm sorry," Ozzy wailed. "I didn't say goodbye."
"It's alright, it's alright," Carracosta comforted, feeling the tears dripping down his face and onto his son's wracked body. "Ozzy, it's alright. I'm here now."
Ewan watched the reunion with a bright smile on his face, Nuzleaf popping in moments later from the doorframe, gesturing to Ewan.
"Perhaps it might be best to leave 'em to it," Nuzleaf recommended, Ewan agreeing as the pair slipped out of the house to leave Carracosta and Ozzy to their reunion. It felt right giving them their space - They deserved it after all they'd been through. Ewan couldn't help but feel like he would be intruding, after all.
Though they only made it about five paces towards their house when they heard Carracosta call out, "Where are you two going?"
The pair of them turned to see Ozzy latched on to his father's side, practically hanging off of him, while Carracosta watched them from the doorway. "We were just gonna head home. Felt a bit intrusive-"
"Nonsense, you fools!" Carracosta boomed. "You both brought my son back to me, I am treating you right! Isn't that right, Ozzy!"
"Yep, that's right, Pops," Ozzy nodded, practically begging with his face for Ewan to come back and join them.
With a shrug, the two retreating Pokemon headed back into the house to celebrate Ozzy's return, Carracosta showering them all with praise and berries galore. Though when all was said and done, Ewan agreed to return home with Nuzleaf for the night, allowing Ozzy a night with his father.
"It's one night, Ozzy," Ewan stated, rolling his eyes at his friend's antics. "Plus, I owe it to Nuzleaf to have a night with him."
"Doesn't mean I have to like it," Ozzy grumbled, stalking back into his room with his arms crossed. "And after I set up the bed too."
"Oh stop whining, you fool," Carracosta stated loudly, making everyone jump. "You may have come back but you're still my Son and you'll respect your friend's wishes."
Ewan couldn't help but laugh at the situation, but soon he decided to leave the reunited family to their fun, with him and Nuzleaf returning back to their home next door.
"So that went well," Nuzleaf announced, feeling mighty happy about the situation. "Carracosta's never been so lively."
"It's all thanks to you and the others," Ewan admitted. "I just showed up on the day, you guys set everything up."
"But without yer wish, Ozzy wouldn't have returned, child," Nuzleaf reminded, the leaf Pokemon going to sit at the table, Ewan deciding to follow him. They really needed to have the talk.
"I forgive you, you know," Ewan muttered, deciding it would be best for him to bring it up first.
"I know you do, child. But I still have to forgive myself…" Nuzleaf admitted. This wasn't a talk he wanted to have with Ewan right now, but it was happening whether he liked it or not. "The things I did, we did under that Dark Matter's control. It wasn't right. I used ya…"
"You did," Ewan admitted. "But you also gave me a home when I had none. Even if it wasn't always genuine, you still looked out for me, told me to follow my dreams. I don't think I'd have made it here if you weren't there that day."
"I'll make it right, somehow," Nuzleaf whispered.
"You already did," Ewan replied. "You brought back my precious Partner. I… I still want you to be a part of my life, Nuzleaf. Even if you don't think you deserve it." And Ewan meant that. Nuzleaf was his father figure, he couldn't deny that. He didn't remember his past, but Nuzleaf had cared for him and some of those moments had to be genuine.
"Heh… You really are one of a kind, Ewan," Nuzleaf smiled. "I'll be here for ya, whenever you need me, child."
Ewan gratefully smiled at Nuzleaf, "Thanks… Dad…"
Ewan had already run off into his bedroom before Nuzleaf could comprehend what the Mudkip had just said, but by golly was he flustered for the rest of the evening. He wasn't expecting that one at ALL.
"I reckon I could get used to that…"