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Headaches and Scars

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Perhaps it’s because of her choice of partner that Lucy Stevens is one of the first to notice. Psyduck, while powerful, have always been known for their volatility, and that combination of power and lack of control can have dangerous consequences. She knows that of course, she’s lived with Psyduck almost all of her life and she knows what happens when you lose control. Things break.

You might not mean it- what you said, the cutting words that sever ties and end any chance of staying friends with the few remaining people willing to see the world the way you do. But that’s what happens when you let hurt and fear take control. Lucy knows this. She lives by this- control yourself, control the narrative. Perhaps that’s why she and Psyduck get along so well. Both of them know that when they let go, things break.

So why it is that she finally snaps at Cynthia, she can’t say. Perhaps the memory of every kid in school who thought that weird dreamer girl was an excellent target just stirs up that long settled rage. Perhaps it’s the memory of every time the woman looked at her with that ‘Be a good dog and fetch the coffee’ smile that sets her gut to bubbling and her head to throbbing. Or perhaps it was the fact that this brightly colored snake insisted on doing both, right now, three days after she uncovered the biggest scoop in the history of the entire city that made the idea of bludgeoning her with a stapler seem oh-so-tempting.

Sophia, Marcus, and Jasmine were thrilled for her! Rose, the producer, had congratulated her on her investigative work, apologized for dismissing her claims, and offered her a promotion on the spot! And yet Cynthia, still smarting from the borrowed press badge and missed spotlight had decided to make it her personal mission in life to piss her off. And it was working too.

Lucy ground her thumbs into the spot between her eyes, leaning heavily on her brand new  desk and trying to ignore the lancing pain of a building migraine. Focusing past the headache was proving difficult, between the syrupy fake compassion of Cynthia’s voice, the surging fury of her temper, and the near physical press of malice that oozed from the senior reporter’s every pore.

“Look Lucy, I understand that you’re excited, that as a- well, probational reporter let’s say- you feel like after one lucky break you’re ready for anything.” Cynthia sighed, and flicked a stray curl over her shoulder. “Still, you have quite a ways to go before you need to be trying to investigate actual crimes- why not look into this graffiti case down at the train yards? I’m sure that with your level of experience it should be right up your alley!”

Breathing slowly and carefully, Lucy tried to focus on stringing actual words into complete sentences. ‘Cheerful and Plucky,’ she chanted mentally. ‘Stick to your role. Cheerful and Plucky.’

“Why thank you for the wonderful and entirely unsolicited advice dear Cynthia!,” she forced through a rictus grin. “But I do think between my skills and my contacts-”

“Oh yes, the detective’s son.” Cynthia smirked, “I do wonder how you got his attention so quickly! And his father’s as well? You were a busy girl.”

A blinding spike of rage sent her migraine into full fury, nausea and building pain washing away her carefully crafted response as the senior reporter’s words buzzed ceaselessly against her ears, Psyduck’s tugging at her coat unnoticed in the haze.

“-have I upset you? Well if you can’t-” and “-aren’t even ready for this, then-” pulsed against the headache like icepicks, with “-tsk, incapable-” and “-even you-” driving them deeper until-

“ENOUGH!” Lucy shouted, her carefully constructed persona dissolving under the strain. “SHUT! UP!” She brought her hands down in a slashing X, pain and frustration and venom poured into the single gesture- and something else, she realized just a moment too late as the blast of vibrant purple energy blew Cynthia backwards out the doorway, across the hall, and about an inch into the plaster of the far wall.

As the target of her ire slowly peeled away from the dent, collapsing motionless to the ground, Lucy stood frozen, migraine forgotten, disbelief etched in every inch.

“Psy? Duck?” came from the pokemon beside her, the sound of it’s bewilderment enough to jolt her from her stupor. Headache forgotten, she raced around the desk to where Cynthia lay, carefully turning her over to peel back a fluttering eyelid and check for a pulse.

Relief surged through her. ‘Not hurt,’ she realized. ‘...probably. Just unconcious. From hitting the wall. From me blasting her into the wall. Which is a thing I did. I just- I don’t- I should go. I should be not here. I’m going to… go.’

With a panicked glance at the perplexed pokemon beside her, she picked herself up off the ground and dazedly stumbled her way out of the building.


 

Tim was not having a good day. It was, yes, technically better than most, considering his dad wasn’t dead anymore, he was starting a career he actually enjoyed, and he had a (probably?) mutual crush with a very attractive girl, and in fact was getting to spend time with her right now. In practice, however, the girl had yanked him into a dark alley, and was currently peeking back out to peer intently down the street in either direction, muttering quietly to her bright yellow companion.

“Look,” she hissed “Maybe they did or maybe they didn’t but I’m not taking any chances- what? No I don’t think- Okay, so maybe it wasn’t my best thought out idea- oh shut up!”

Lucy spun, suddenly a foot away and staring fiercely into his eyes, finger prodding him in the chest. “Well?” she interrogated, eyes narrowed with suspicion and- was that fear- “Were you followed? Did they see you?”

Tim was not following. “I, uh, followed?” he asked,  “By who? Howard? Didn’t the police wrap up the rest of his hired thugs already?”

“I told you once Tim!” she snarled, “That family had the police in their pocket. Even now, some might be craven enough to accept bribes. But. No. No actually, not Howard.” The Intrepid Young Reporter actually looked momentarily sheepish. “CNN maybe? Cynthia? The Cops? I didn’t actually think that… never mind, it’s not important!”

“This is what’s important, very important Tim, I need you to be completely honest with me,” she began, pacing back and forth. She stopped, turned to face him, and asked. “What. Do. I look like.”

The young detective-in-training, in the face of absurdity, fell back on honesty. “Me? What do I think- Well, I, that is- you are a very beautiful young woman and I think that outfit looks great on you!” He froze, mortified by the outburst- although slightly relieved to see an answering blush appear on Lucy’s face. At least until she managed to reboot her brain and start hitting him.

“No you twit! Not like that! I mean what do I look like, do I look different, am I yellow am I growing feathers, am I- oh god am I speaking Pokemon? Does everything I say come out as Lucy? CAN YOU UNDERSTAND ME TIM? SAY SOMETHING! SAY SOMETHING!”

“S-s-s-s-to-o-o-op-p sh-a-a-king m-e-e-e!” Tim managed, and fell back against the grimy brick wall as Lucy stumbled back a step. “Of course I understand you, why would you ask that? We’ve been talking for- what do you mean feathers? What happened to you?”

Lucy took a deep breath, ready to launch into one of her trademark speeches, then stopped, mentally reviewed her script, and watched her internal editor douse the whole thing in red ink.

“You know what?” she said with a nervous smile, “I’m sorry, I’ve just been a little bit off today. One of my coworkers managed to stress out Psyduck and he had an inci-”

“Psy Psy!”

“Yes it is! Shut up!”

“Psyduck-duck”

“That is not what happened, and you know it!” Lucy snapped, rounding on an unmoved Psyduck with a glare. “Stop interrupting me and let me finish-”

Tim stared in mounting horror, recognition slowly dawning as their one sided argument continued. “Please tell me no-one’s in the wrong body this time…”

Lucy and Psyduck both stopped dead, the plea enough to thoroughly derail their argument. “Wh-why would you think that?” the Reporter attempted, memories of the Parade quite clearly at the forefront of her mind.

“Because you’re talking to your Pokemon, and you can understand him just as much as you can understand me.”

“No I can’t.” She stated, any uncertainty tucked away behind a very good poker face.

“Yes you can.”

“No, I can’t, I would have noticed that,” she reaffirmed, certainty returning to her tone.

“Duck, psy, pys-duck-psy!”

“No I can’t! Call me a flat footed Fearow again and I’ll-” she paused, eyes locked on him. “You didn’t say that did you.”

He shook his head.

“Psyduck did.” He nodded. “And I understood it.” He nodded again. “Well. Shoot.”

In the end, they moved to the diner- the patrons had proved decidedly uninterested in the hijinks of the two teens over the past week, and the alley, while private, had a decidedly unpleasant odor of Trubbish. Excellent for incognito meetings between daring young investigators, less useful for awkward confessions. Tim ordered a coffee, and thought about his dad, and Lucy had a whispered argument with her companion that- by the sound of it- she was losing badly.

“Fine!” she huffed at last, and turned to Tim. “Okay, so what I told you earlier was almost completely true in every respect-”

“Psy!”

“Give me a second! I’m getting there!” Lucy glared at Psyduck  for a moment, before turning to Tim, face serious. “It was mostly true, except-” she swallowed, and finished in a rush. “Except I was the one who had the headache  and not him, and when she stressed me out enough I sent her flying ten feet through the air and I do not know how to handle this Tim! This was not in my five year plan! I’m a reporter, not a psychic! Why am I throwing mind blasts around!?!”

Tim stared across the table at Lucy, who had pulled her hat down low over her eyes and was making a very poor attempt at looking nonchalant for any patrons that might have noticed her vehemence. “You know what? My life is already weird enough this might as well happen. So sure, psychic powers. You spent some time in Psyduck’s body, now you have Psyduck powers. That follows, right?”

“Sure, fine, I guess -” Lucy, eye twitching at Tim’s lack of dramatically appropriate shock or disbelief, continued. “But why me? Out of all the people who Mewtwo transformed, why am I the only one who suddenly has weird pokemon powers?”

Tim’s jaw dropped. “Unless...” he said nervously, meeting her look of slowly growing excitement.

“Unless I’m not!” she shouted, half rising from her seat before catching the odd look of the Ludicolo behind the bar. Slumping low and hiding behind the menu in front of her, she whispered “And who do we know that spent more time in someone else’s body than anyone?”

“Dad…” Tim breathed, a surge of unidentifiable emotions roiling in his gut. “We need to talk to him.”