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Frontier Town Sun Stone Saloon

As Odette geared up to respond, the bartender on duty set a tray of her five cocktails in front of her. She stared at them hungrily, holding up a thumb as she picked one up and began to sip at it. “No,” she said along with Wes, straw still in her mouth. “I just got off a set and was gonna head back to my room.”

She eyed her tray again before looking back at the other two, suddenly realizing how this looked. “I would also like to let the record show that I’m not an alcoholic; steel type bodies just have a hard time getting drunk, and my tolerance shot waaaaaaaaay up since the first time I drank here. Back home, this would probably kill me. But I’m sipping for the flavor. And maybe for a buzz. You know, for healthy sleep,” she said ironically.

She went back to sipping, now unsure of how to proceed. She really wanted to ask Wes about his apparent grief with Koa, but it was still obvious to her the lycanrock still wasn’t particularly settled and she didn’t want to rustle him more. And she barely knew Archie. This was a setup for awkward smalltalk if she’d ever seen one before. Maybe if she got full on drunk, she could manage it better.

“So…” she said into her straw. “Now that that’s out of the way…how was everyone’s day?”

It took everything in her not to cringe.
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The Oshawott eyed his drink a little warily when it was first placed in front of him. But, Wes was paying, and he didn’t want to seem ungrateful, so he gave it a sip. He quickly came to regret it, having to bite back a cough when the kick came on stronger than he’d originally anticipated. Way to immediately out himself as someone who didn’t drink. Thankfully, the literal tray of cocktails the bartender soon placed in front of Odette proved a decent distraction from his own slight suffering. So she was actually serious about downing a half dozen of those things? He guessed that she was an adult that could be trusted to know her own limits, but he couldn’t cover up the skeptical look he shot the Mawile’s way.

“Well, I’ll actually helped Nova evolve, earlier!” he said, “at least, I think that’s what happened? The mask came off, he grew and changed color. I… Guess I don’t really have a point of reference, for what evolving is like for his species.”

Sure, this had been a pretty rough couple of days, but that was something to be proud of, at least. And it wasn’t like he didn’t have things coming up to look forward to, either. If he just kept reminding himself of that, maybe he wouldn’t get so caught up in his own mistakes to make people think he was self-martyring.

“Actually, Wes, if you don’t mind me asking,” he began again, looking past Odette’s ‘I don’t have a problem’ tray to the Lycanroc, “What’s it like? Evolving? I… Guess I’ve been feeling kind of paranoid about the idea.”
Wes did a double take at Odette’s hoard of drinks. Well…all right, then. He supposed she knew better about alcohol and steel types than he did. He then noticed Archie sputter on his drink and hid his grin by taking another sip. Suddenly he was much less self conscious about his own choice of drink; clearly they all had odd preferences.

He managed not to laugh at Odette’s strained attempt at small talk, but he couldn’t hold one in at Archie’s question. “I dunno, Archie, I don’t think my evolution experience is exactly a standard one,” Wes said. “Whatever happens, I just hope yours is more enjoyable than mine was.”

Still, though, he wanted to offer reassurance. “That said, the only unpleasant part about it was…well, the Shadow part of it all. Nothing about the evolution was bad. I mean…it’s weird. Kinda bizarre to get used to a whole new body. I keep tripping over myself and smacking my head on things because I’m suddenly four times bigger now.” He scowled sourly. At least he hadn’t done any of those things in public yet. “Dunno if that’s normal though, or if it’s because I’ve never been a mon before, so this kind of stuff is nowhere near natural for me.”
Odette exchanged mock accusatory looks with the lycanrock and oshawott. “Go on and take a picture, it’ll last you both a lot longer,” she huffed, though the sarcasm in her voice softened the blow of the words.

She was quiet as they exchanged talk about evolutions, and she had to resist humming happily to herself. She had the wonderful pleasure of not having to get used to a new body all fucking over again. Mawile didn’t evolve, and she would thank her lucky fucking stars for that. A mawile evolution probably meant more jaws and more jaws meant more room for Odile personalities to manifest and cause her more problems. One was fine and dandy in her book. Provided if mega evolutions never came into play, in which case…

“Well, you already got used to being a quadraped, which is half the battle. Now just remember your snout’s a little longer and your hair gained some volume and you’ll be fine.”

She finished off the drink she was holding and set it down, but didn’t immediately go for the next one. “In all seriousness, I’m pretty sure all of that’s natural. When my chandelure partner evolved from a litwick into a lampent, he kept forgetting he could levitate. So he kept bum shuffling everywhere despite the fact he could…you know…levitate. Or, when my gothitelle partner went from gothita to gothorita, she took a while to get used to her new head shape and kept getting caught on doorframes. I felt bad,” she said in a snicker.
The Oshawott nodded along with Wes’s explanation, only frowning briefly at the mention of the Shadow element of the whole experience. Still, he supposed it was good the Lycanroc was able to joke about it, at least. Maybe meant it wasn’t eating him up as badly as Archie had originally feared, when Wes would barely even look at anyone after he’d been brought back to his senses. Really, both Wes’s and Odette’s perspectives on the matter sounded perfectly sensible. It was kind of funny to imagine Wes tripping over his bigger paws and knocking things over with his long tail.

Still, he found himself staring at his reflection in his drink, as he held the glass between both paws.

“I guess I just… Feel like I’ll lose some piece of myself?” he said, “Take another step away from who I used to be.”

He guessed that was a very specific kind of problem. Thankfully, he was fairly certain both of his drinking companions were former humans. So, if anyone was going to get where he was coming from, it’d probably be them?
Wes let out a bark of laughter at Odette’s story. “Sounds like you had bigger struggles than I did. All I had to deal with was Neo experimenting with his telekinesis and wreaking havoc. He’s an Espeon.” He shook his head and took another swig. “Come to think of it, not much has changed.”

He then raised a curious eyebrow at Archie. Come to think of it, he’d never really asked much about Archie’s history…well, everybody more or less knew his story now, thanks to Seth, and Wes hadn’t even gotten much of a say in that. Perhaps it was this line of thinking that drove him to ask, “Who did you used to be?” before he could think twice.
The Oshawott froze momentarily, his grip on his glass tightening ever so tightly. But, why? He’d already told Dave and Koa pretty much everything he remembered. No reason to hide it from Wes and Odette. He took another sip, managed to keep this one down without gagging, and then began.

“There’s a lot I don’t remember,” he said, “I was a human. Born in Castelia City, the largest city of the Unova region. I was trained as a Pokemon Ranger, my duty was to help preserve the natural environment of the great desert that stretched between Castelia and its northern neighbor, Nimbasa – the region’s other largest city. A great number of Pokemon called that desert home, and they were threatened by the pressures of those two great cities, wanting to urbanize towards one another.”

He shook his head, “It didn’t really matter, in the end. All that’s gone now. I’m all that’s left, and… You see how I am now. If I… Keep changing… I guess, I just feel like that last little bit of my old life will disappear too.”

He gulped down the rest of his drink.
Wes had an Espeon? Had he mentioned that at any points when they spoke? She didn’t remember, but she smilef fondly nonetheless. “Didn’t have any issues with that with my sylveon partner, Enora. She couldn’t get the hang of her ribbons really well at first but she was very conservative about using too much magic in one shot.”

Archie’s story brought a little more rain to the conversation, and she frowned. She guessed, with all the body swapping shit, she supposed that was a valid fear. Losing bits of yourself to different evolutions.

“Well…you already changed once and still kept all of that. Who’s to say that won’t remain so with subsequent changes? Pokemon don’t forget what they did in previous forms as they move through their growth, so chances are, neither will you. Ex-human or not.”
Wait. Archie’s world was just—straight up gone? Entirely? How? And he’d been human, too, which meant some alternate version of Orre out there—some alternate version of Wes—had just been somehow wiped out of existence. Normally the thought wouldn’t have registered enough to bother him, but after meeting Seth, it was too chilling of a realization. He almost asked how such a thing could happen, but Archie looked so miserable, he wasn’t sure he dared ask.

“I…well…damn,” he said at length. “That’s—gods. I’m sorry. What world did you get here from, then?” He immediately realized that might be a tasteless question. “I mean-sorry. You don’t have to answer that.”

He contemplated a little more. “Well, if it helps…we’re only here temporarily. Which means our bodies are, too. You’ll eventually get to go back to where you were before, in the body you knew, so it’s not like anything that happens here is irreversible. Might as well make the most of it while you can, right?”

Wes then worked up at Odette’s response and stumbled over his sudden rush of excitement. “A Sylveon. Wow, that’s—!” He forcibly cut himself short and regained his composure with a small cough. “That’s really…cool. I’ve never seen one myself, actually. What do they look like?” He tried to ask as nonchalantly as possible, though there was no hiding that curious and eager gleam in his eyes, like a child on their birthday.
Despite everything else, Wes and Odette describing the antics their Pokemon got up to did bring a smile to his face. The way Wes especially practically lit up when talking about his Espeon, and excitedly asked Odette about her own Eeveelution, was especially heartwarming. He actually hated to risk dragging the mood back down answering the Lycanroc’s question, but he didn’t want to ignore and maybe come across like Wes had crossed a line.

“When my world ended, I escaped through a portal into a new world,” he explained, “After that, I remember falling for a while, and then, next thing I knew, I’d turned into an Oshawott and was being prodded awake by a Treecko.”

He sat up straighter, spinning in his seat to face Odette and Wes directly. “That’s Spencer, he’s the one who helped me get situated. We joined the Adventurers Guild together, in a place called Treasure Town… Maybe the reason I was the one that world selected to answer Betel’s call for help was because I’d already made the jump once before?”

It would make just as much sense to him as any other reason, he supposed. And… Well, Wes and Odette were right. It wasn’t like Pokemon forgot who they used to be, Wes certainly hadn’t forgotten anything. And, ultimately, these bodies were just constructs. His real flesh and blood self was back home, frozen in time, waiting for his mind to return. He didn’t really have any logical reasoning for not wanting to evolve, being a Dewott like Ayda probably wouldn’t be all that bad, even. It just… Felt like a betrayal, somehow!
Jeeze. The thought of losing her world only to wake up in a new body with no chance of ever returning to her old one...talk about existential dread. To think, there was a whole world out there, likely identical to hers, probably with a version of her in it that just imploded one day. She had half a mind to ask how it happened, but that felt wildly inappropriate.

"Oh, so, you kinda ended up in a world like this one?" she asked gently. Knowing that fucking video game worlds were viable places to jump to continued to boggle her fucking mind. Archie had jumped into one escaping world destruction and they'd done it answering a call from some experimental cloud god thing. What the fuck even was the multiverse? "That's still throwing me off. Worlds like this, where Pokemon talk plain Galarish and have humanlike civilizations like this with no present human forms are video game concepts where I'm from."

She couldn't help but smile, however, at Wes's clear excitement when she talked about Enora. "Oh, you're a fellow Eon fan, huh?" she said. "I personally they look the most distinct out of the whole line. They have these big round eyes and these ribbon-like tendrils. Like, bows. Super frilly looking, honestly, but beatiful. Really. Most sylveon are pink, but Enora's shiny." She paused for a second, wondering how she wanted to continue that. Shinies in say, Koa's world didn't equate to blood types, so she had no reason to dig herself that hole here. "Shiny just means there's a color variation in her, so she's blue."

Grinning fondly, she reached for another drink. "She's the only Eon on my team, but I considered training another. An umbreon would have been interesting, but it never happened. I also really enjoyed the thought of partnering with a glaceon, even though I'm not an elemental trainer myself. But my boyfriend had a glaceon partner who was a pleasant little thing, and--"

Odette suddenly paused, her expression falling. She stared at nothing in particular for an awkward half-second before slowly going in for a sip. "Ex-boyfriend," she corrected herself after swallowing. Then she cleared her throat. "All of that to say Eon's are an excellent partner choice and it sounds like yours keeps you on your toes."
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Wes snorted into his drink. “That’s an understatement,” he said to Odette. “Some days it’s all I can do not to pull my hair out between the two of them. Keeps my hands full, considering one is nocturnal and the other isn’t.” Though Novo was generally good at staying out of trouble, thank the scorching stars. Sylveon sounded…well, Odette was right, it sounded like the frilliest Pokémon he could imagine. Though this did nothing to diminish his eagerness to see one someday.

He turned back to Archie, and—gods, it hadn’t even occurred to Wes until Archie said it, that this was his second time jumping worlds. No wonder he was struggling to hold on to his original identity. Wes couldn’t imagine…not only losing your entire world and everything you owned, everyone you loved, but your own body, too? Just thinking about it gave him a headache and a level of existential dread he didn’t know was possible to feel.

“You know,” he said softly, “if you ever feel like…like you’re losing touch with your old self, you could always talk with someone about it. Share stories of what you remember, write them down.” Sometimes he shared old memories of Alden out loud with Neo and Novo. The stories were never new to them, as they shared most of the same memories, but…it helped. To speak his name out loud in the air. As if to prove he existed and was real and mattered even though he was long gone. “If you ever need someone to listen, I’m happy to lend an ear.”
“Sort of,” Archie nodded at Odette, “Pokemon in my world haven’t mastered the steam engine, and, uh, clothing standards are a little laxer, in general. Oh, and, uh, humans are generally considered to be mythological. You can’t just, you know, open up a history book and read up on all the times humans appeared to save the world.”

That got another smile out of the Oshawott. The idea that people made video games about worlds like his in Odette’s world actually threw him a little bit. He definitely understood how weird that would be for her. Briefly, he tried to imagine how Spencer would feel if he’d made the jump instead, and learned that his world was something that existed only in fiction… Actually, he’d probably overload the Mawile with questions about what those games were about, where they were set, who you could play, and try to match that up with stories he’d heard.

Wes’s offer took the wind out of his sails some. To be honest, he’d already forgotten so much, and the more he ended up remembering, the more part of him wished he didn’t. But, at the same time, he felt like he owed it to the people who weren’t around anymore, to remember in their place.

“Thanks, Wes, that… That means a lot to me,” he said, “Maybe I’ll take you up on that offer sometime.”

Not now, though, right now he wanted to listen to his friend gush about his Pokemon, enjoy the company of people who were happy and lively. He wanted to watch Odette get extremely drunk, and be worried she wouldn’t be able to make to her room without passing out on the stairs or something. Wanted to enjoy a warm meal and decide if this was the place he was going to bring Nova. Forget, for a few hours, about Powehi and Cipher and the Monster That Ate The Sun.
“Haven’t mastered the…”

Jesus Christ, did all these Pokemon worlds not have electricity? They had electric types so how was it they weren’t more advanced somehow? Having to go from a world with places like Castelia City to a world that didn’t know what a fucking steam engine is without any way to get back. The only reason she hasn’t freaked the fuck out coming here was that she knew she’d go back eventually. And even that didn’t stop her from a lack-of-electronics crisis.

“Man, you are a fucking trooper…even if you don’t quite remember anything,” she said. “I’m a little pussy; I went through withdrawals because I haven’t been able to damage my hearing with my earbuds in the past couple weeks. Or take my motorcycle out.” Gods, what she wouldn’t give to have a bike here; it’d make all these desert treks so much fucking easier.

She shook her head. “But…yeah. I’ll always listen to some stories. I can tell you how they match up to the games where I’m from if you want. I know we don’t really know each other that well but, heh. I like stories.”

Sipping again, she began to idly look around. Looking over all the rich ‘mon eating and drinking amongst each other and Greasewood flinging drinks. The mood had been tense before, but now it just felt light. Like there wasn’t the looming threat of tearing this world in half with their presence and Shadow infections. It was nice.

“So in an attempt to keep things jovial,” she said, “what is the one thing you’d bring over here from your world to make this place more palatable, and why?”
Wes perked up once again. “You have a motorcycle?” Damn, he was learning he had more in common with Odette and her demon jaws than he thought. Or, well, maybe just Odette.

He gave slightly wry grin. “Well, my boys would be my first choice, of course. Neo and Novo—his brother, an Umbreon. But I take it you’re asking about things and not people.” He took a swig and paused briefly, thoughtfully. If people were in the equation…would he have wanted Rui here, too? He’d thought about her a lot more than he’d expected, but—well, that was just because Archie reminded him of her in a lot of ways, that was all. No, he wouldn’t want her here. For one, they definitely weren’t close enough for him to ask such a thing, and for another…it was better she stay put. Not get wrapped up in all this mess.

He cleared his throat and shook the strange thoughts from his head. “Anyway, if we’re talking things, then I’d bring my motorcycle here. No question.” Though how the hell he’d ride the thing in a dog’s body was beyond him. Whatever. Semantics. He’d figure it out if he had to. “Gods, I miss riding that thing. Way better then the creaky old train they’ve got here.”
Archie chuckled again. To be honest, when he first came to his second world, he hadn’t remembered anything, so he hadn’t been able to miss any of the little conveniences of the modern world. Then, by the time his memories started to slowly come back as anything more substantial than just his own name and the fact of his prior humanity, he’d already mostly adapted to the relative technology level of the world. Still, there were a few things he missed!

“For me, it was the food,” he said, “I was eating healthier than ever before, but man, what I wouldn’t have given for a juicy Miltank burger sometimes. Mystery meat just doesn’t compare.”

As for things he’d want to bring here… Wes immediately mentioned his Pokemon, and, in turn, Archie’s mind immediately went to Spencer. Would he want to bring the Treecko here? He’d probably consider it a grand adventure, and they’d have a fantastic time together. But, at the same time, he kept imagining all the ways it could go wrong. The fight with the Drapion, only Spencer was the one poisoned near to death. The fight with Seth, only the teammate that lost themselves to Shadow wasn’t a Rockruff, but a Treecko. Maybe it was better the Grass Type stayed away.

“Probably my Wonder Bag,” the Oshawott said, instead, “It had a special lining that made it bigger on the inside. I think the materials for them are harvested from Mystery Dungeons? Could carry enough supplies for a week’s expedition.”

It was a boring, practical answer. Didn’t leave much to the imagination. Not like Wes’s answer, which lead to the amusing mental image of the Lycanroc attempting to drive a motorcycle with his paws. Had he evolved into the same form as Seth, Wes probably could’ve managed it well enough, but he was still a quadruped! And imagining him trying to drive it as a tiny Rockruff? Even better, the Oshawott had to stifle another laugh at that.
“People definitely count,” Odette said coyly. “I’d have loved a chance to meet your umbreon and espeon duo,” she said.

Her eyes sparkled at what his answer ended up being, though, and she gasped inwardly. “You ride a bike too? What kind? You strike me as a standard or cruiser rider.” She squinted at him. “Or…chopper, maybe? Where did you say you were from again? Do you have more than one? Do your Eon’s ride with you?”

Maroon eyes were glowing with delight by now, and she settled a hand over her chest in what looked to be longing. “I drive a little sportbike—speed over all, and you can fucking fight me on that—but I always wanted to put a little basket on the front so my smaller teammates could ride around with me. But, two of them float, two will not ride outside their Pokeballs, one’s flight risks, and one is just straight up too big. I wish they made like sportbike sidecars but that defeats the fucking point of a sportbike.” She guessed Odile technically rode on the back a lot, but still…

She chugged another sip. “When I’m old—like 75 or something—and my hips are too shitty to be leaning all around on a sportbike, I’m gonna invest in like, a touring or a tricycle, put one of those dumb sidecars on it, and show all the young whippersnappers what for. They won’t know what hit them when I’m driving by with my team of elderly retired magical types, I’ll tell you that for free.”

As she finished off that drink, she smiled fondly. “Can you tell bikes are my guilty pleasure? I have a problem. Except not really, because I could talk about it all fucking day.”

She then turned back to Archie. “Also…that sounds insane. What, it’s just a little pocket dimension in a bag? I’d kill for one of those in my home world. Maybe not just for inanimate objects…”

Shaking her head, she raised a hand. “If we’re talking things, I’m stuck between my motorcycle myself, or my phone and earbuds, and I couldn’t pick, so I’m not going to. If we’re talking about people…”

That’s where she got stuck. Several names fluttered through her mind, and she tried to gear her mind toward some of them in particular. Like Hau. She’d love it if Hau was here. Plumeria too. Gladion. But with another Gladion running around, she didn’t want to deal with it.

Noel. She missed Noel so much. Noel probably would have figured all this shit out already.

Val. Obviously that couldn’t happen. As much as she longed for it. Probably more than anything.

Guzma. Guzma. Guzma.

But no. If he showed up here, she’d punch him in the face no fucking hesitation. She was mad at him, and that was that. So why she kept landing back on his name was pissing her off more than anything.

Frowning, she set her glass down. “I’d go for my team too. Not sure how they’d fare in the desert but at least I’d feel slightly more sane with them around.” For the most part, at least.
…Wow, Wes had clearly opened some kind of floodgate with that question. He couldn’t help but grin, though—it was nice to see Odette gush about something so enthusiastically. He laughed when she asked him about his own bike.

“I…have no idea what you’d call mine. It’s not really, uh, conventional. It’s more like an…improvisation.” His grin widened. “Does have a sidecar, though, made specially for my boys. They love riding in that thing. The one time I let Ru—er, let someone else ride in it, I thought Novo might never forgive me.”

Why’d he leave Rui’s name out? He didn’t really know. He figured it wasn’t really important to bring her name up; they were barely friends, if that, and it wasn’t like she’d be sticking around long, anyway. Not if she was anything like Seth’s Rui.

That put a strain on his smile for some reason, so he irritably waved the thought away and moved along. He thought he saw a similar sort of battle dance across Odette’s face, and felt at least somewhat reassured that he wasn’t the only one with things he’d rather not talk about at the moment.

“That bag sounds nifty as hell,” he said lightly to Archie, eager to change the subject. “How does it work, exactly? Does it get real heavy if you put too much stuff in it?”
Oh wow, they were really getting into it with this motorcycle talk. To be honest, Archie was pretty sure that most of this would be going over his head even if he did have all his human memories still. To the best of his understanding, Odette liked to go unreasonably fast and Wes built his own bike custom. Both suggested a high degree of skill, in two different, but equally impressive areas.

The Lycanroc’s near slip up did cause the Oshawott’s ears to twitch? Why stop himself from mentioning the person’s name? Was it just because it wouldn’t mean anything to them? Was there some kind of history there that Wes didn’t want to remind himself of? His expression certainly looked conflicted for a moment. Some kind of baggage, then. Well, if the Lycanroc wasn’t comfortable bringing it up, the Oshawott didn’t want to force the issue. Maybe he’d ask Wes about it later, in a more private setting.

“It’s something like that, yeah,” the Oshawott nodded to Odette’s question, “It has something to do with replicating the way Dungeons fold reality over itself, I think? It doesn’t get heavy so much as eventually it just starts ejecting anything else you try to put in it until you take something out. Dungeons do the same thing back home if you spend too long inside, like if you’re knocked our or something.”
Huh. Dungeons would spit people out? Wes had long ago given up trying to understand what the hell dungeons were even supposed to be, but that didn’t mean they’d ever stopped baffling him. He swore his head spun every time he learned something new about those things.

He started peppering Archie with questions about the dungeons in his world, smiled and laughed as Odette told more stories about her team, and for the first time in a long while, he actually lost track of time. The sun was starting to sink into an early evening position through the windows by the time Wes realized how long he’d been here, chatting among friends and enjoying himself.

He regretfully put down his glass of water, having switched away from his preferred drink a while ago—he, unfortunately, did not have the level of tolerance that Odette was blessed with—and stretched before hopping off his seat.

“I promised Alejandro I’d pick up some supplies for him before the day was over, so I need to get going,” he said. He gave them both a light smile. “But…thank you for this. Truly. Let’s do it again sometime, through preferably starting with less sacrificial guilt next time.” His smile broadened into a grin, indicating he was including himself in his own good-natured jab. “Take care of yourselves in the meantime, alright?”

Then, with a friendly parting swish of his tail, he turned and headed out the door, in much higher spirits than when he came in.
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