Emmet didn't know why he was in Sinnoh.
That wasn't exactly the truth, though. He was in Sinnoh because Chandelure wanted him to be there. Still, he didn't know why Chandelure wanted him to be in Sinnoh.
Chandelure had been one of the few things keeping Emmet sane ever since Ingo left the station. She was a warm and steady presence, never asking too much of him despite the grief he knew she shared. She never stopped worrying for Ingo, he knew it, but she always stayed within Emmet's reach.
It had been a shock when she left his side for the first time since she fell into Emmet's care. He had frantically trailed her, only to watch her stop at one of the TVs in Gear Station showing some news segment. Emmet didn't get to see what had caught her attention, but he did catch the headline that she was urgently pointing at.
"New exhibit opens in the Sinnoh Historical Museum". Emmet didn't understand why it was important, but if Chandelure was so desperate to see it, he would go.
He had flown through the process of packing and taking time off from the battle subway. Iris offered to cover for the doubles train, and Emmet allowed it as long as one of the senior depot agents supervised the young champion. Elesa would have, as she had a lot of experience in the trains, but she had an important event that had been scheduled far in advance and couldn't be cancelled. Emmet was not worried, however. Iris was a strong trainer, and Jackie would make sure nothing went wrong while he was away. Emmet made sure to check that his pass for carrying more than 6 pokemon was up to date, and with that he was all set to go.
Emmet said goodbye to Ingo before he left. He couldn't bring himself to enter his brother's room. He had a plane to catch, and if he went inside, he would most certainly be late. Instead, he stood outside the door while Chandelure floated solemnly through.
"Chandelure wants to go on a trip. You know I can't say no to her." His voice cracked and his eyes grew wet. "I will be back soon, Ingo. I promise."
He rested his hand on the door for half a minute until Chandelure emerged and draped herself over his shoulders. They left the apartment together with heavy hearts and only each other for company. Emmet and Ingo's teams were a comforting weight on his hip, and Chandelure joined them when they reached the airport.
After a verrry long plane trip, Emmet was in Sinnoh. Specifically, Jubilife city. Chandelure left her ball the moment he exited the airport and twirled around his head.
"Hello Chandelure," Emmet chirped. "We are now in Sinnoh. The museum is only one city away in Canalave."
Chandelure chimed in response. It was the most hopeful sound he had heard from her in months. Emmet spun on his heel, pointing west.
"All aboard!" His proclamation startled a few tourists leaving the airport, and one enthusiastic child gave him a happy "choo-choo", and the two of them were off.
One look at route 218, and Emmet was annoyed. He barely passed the wall of trees that bordered the outer edge of the city before he was met with a large river cutting through the terrain. A wooden bridge covered only half of the river, and after that there was no way to cross.
"That is verrry inconvenient. What If a trainer has no pokemon that can learn surf? Or if they don't want to replace a superior move in their arsenal? This place needs trains." Emmet grumbled as he approached the end of the bridge. Chandelure bubbled with her own form of laughter at his expense. "Not a word from you. You can float."
Emmet looked up and down the river. There was a section of the rapids further down that had large rocks jutting up through the water's surface… and he could just barely reach one from the bridge.
"Chandelure, I have an idea. Spot me." Emmet took a moment to psych himself up before he leaped to the first rock. Chandelure clinked in concern, but he caught his balance just fine. He shot her a thumbs up and hopped to the next one, and the next, until he reached the other bank. Chandelure stayed close, ready to catch him with Psychic if he needed it, but the trip was made with no issues. It helped that he had dressed for travel instead of work. His dress shoes would definitely not pass safety checks here.
They made quick work of the trainers loitering on the route. He asked every one if they would like a double battle, and most of them agreed, save for one trainer who only had a single pokemon. After each battle, he thanked the trainers in only lightly accented Ranseigo and continued. It wasn't long before he reached the outskirts of Canalave city. Chandelure spun in the air again and started to tug on Emmet's coat.
"I am Emmet. I know you are excited, Chandy. We are almost there." He patted her glass and followed. "Now remember, you have to stay in the PokeBall while we are inside. I know this is verrry important to you. But we don't want them to kick us out."
Chandelure dropped a bit, but she held her ball on Emmet's belt and shook it lightly.
"Splendid idea! Shake your ball when I get close. I will take pictures for you."
Chandelure bobbed in agreement and let out a happy trill. Hearing her so full of life brought a bubble of joy to his own chest, and his smile grew. The last few months have been hard without Ingo, but the bond he had been growing with Chandelure dulled the ache. They both missed him, but they weren't alone. They still had each other, and they helped each other stay on track for when Ingo comes home.
"Are you ready?" He looped his arm through hers, and when she nodded her assent, they departed.
Canalave City was beautiful. It was less dense than Jubilife, with open roads and a large emphasis on the canal that ran through the city. While Emmet wasn't a fan of boats, he could appreciate the aesthetic and the bright blue gleam of the water under a cloudless sky.
Emmet himself didn't know where to find the historical museum, but Chandelure seemed to be drawn straight to it. She all but dragged him across the drawbridge and in front of a large ornate building. The doors were framed with simple pillars which were draped in pale pink and deep blue banners. A poster by the front advertised a new and limited time exhibit, but he wasn’t familiar with all the characters that made up the name of it. Something about heroes. He snapped a quick picture and decided to look it up later if he couldn't find out inside.
Emmet checked the open times, relieved to see that there were still a few hours before they closed. Bless the time zone difference between Unova and Sinnoh. It was extremely late back home, but the sun was far from setting in Sinnoh.
"It's time, Chandy. Will you be alright? Do you need any maintenance before we depart?"
She shook her head. She uncoupled herself from him, touched his cheek with a carefully cooled flame, and then retreated into her ball. Emmet took that as his signal to go.
Emmet ascended the steps and walked inside. While it wasn't particularly hot outside, the air conditioning was pleasant on his face. It was relatively quiet, but the sounds of distant families and tourists checking out the exhibits echoed through the halls. The receptionist called him over with a friendly wave, and he approached in a few long strides.
"Good afternoon sir! Are you here for a tour of the new Hisuian Heroes exhibit, or would you like a standard ticket?" The lady asked him, pointing to a list of options and their respective prices. Ah, so that’s what the name was. Emmet had never heard of Hisui before, but then again, he didn’t care much for history.
"One moment, please," he requested. He did not research the options he would have at the museum, only the news of the new exhibit. It had something to do with the ancient clans of the region and some relic connected to a previously unknown legendary. Perhaps that was what caught Chandelure's attention. Whatever it was, Emmet didn't want to miss anything. A tour guide would have more answers than the plaques on the items would, and he could do some background research while he waited for one to start.
"I would like a tour, please. How long until the next one?" He checked the prices as he asked. It was twice the price of a standard ticket, but it wasn't too expensive for him considering his career and how much he saved up. It was almost nothing compared to the last minute flight he booked.
"About 25 minutes, sir. You are also welcome to explore the museum until it starts, as long as you are back here by 4:30." That explained the price, at least. It was the tour in addition to standard entry. Now that he thought about it, it wouldn't make much sense for someone to pay for a tour only to be rushed out without letting them see anything else on their own.
"That is perfect. Thank you." He handed the receptionist the exact change for the ticket, and she gave him a yellow plastic wristband with the date and time stamped on it.
"Enjoy your visit!" She waved again, and he tipped his cap in response. It wasn't the same as his subway master hat, but his white newsboy cap was a good enough substitute for his fiddling habits. Besides, he wore his uniform so much that his head felt bare without a hat.
As he waited for his time, he looked around at the relics and texts on Sinnohan history. He learned a lot about Hisui. Apparently, that was what Sinnoh used to be called centuries ago. There were some artistic depictions of interesting species variants that had long been extinct, with a few mentions of attempts to restore the breeds. He read about the Pearl and Diamond clans, and their misguided feud over the Sinnohan legendary pokemon. There was a brief description of an eventual truce and then alliance between them, but there was no mention of the circumstances behind it. Emmet figured it had something to do with the "Hisuian Heroes'' that the receptionist had mentioned.
He came to a section blocked off by stanchions and a small sign that read "Tour in progress". He didn't get any closer. It was important to follow the rules! He could hear voices inside though, and he felt a slight tremor on his belt.
"Not now, Chandelure. Just a little longer." He checked his Xtransceiver. "7 minutes, to be exact."
He inspected the stanchions one last time and thanked his past self that he got the tour. He would have been so embarrassed if he had paid for standard entry only to find out that what he came for was blocked off to those without the tour tickets. He must have missed some fine print on the options in the front. That kind of attention to detail didn't come easily to Emmet. That was more Ingo's thing.
He shook that train of thought out of his head. No use dwelling on what could have been. His course was set with no delays in sight.
Before he headed back to the front, he read one more excerpt on the Sinnoh Legendaries. He already had a general idea about who they were. One of them was caught recently, and battle facilities needed to know what pokemon were banned. However, a refresher wouldn't hurt.
Arceus, the Pokemon who shaped the universe.
Dialga, the conductor of time. Palkia, the director of space. Giratina, the pariah ruler of antimatter and distortion. He was familiar with them, but the idea of them made him uncomfortable. Unova had its legendaries representing and upholding the concepts of truth, ideals, and justice, as well as the weather controlling trio… but the legendaries of Sinnoh were on an entirely different scale. They embodied fundamental forces of the universe itself. Briefly, he thanked the dragons that the creation pokemon tended to be very hands-off with the matters of the human world.
Satisfied with everything he learned, Emmet headed to the front entrance to wait out the last few minutes until his tour. The group was surprisingly small. Maybe it was because of the late hour? Or perhaps all the people who were interested would prefer to visit on a weekend. Whatever the case, he was a bit relieved. It would be easier to ask questions with less strangers around.
Anticipation gripped Emmet, and he started tapping a foot as quietly as he could. There was something here, he just knew it. His mind drifted for a bit as he thought. It had something to do with Ingo. That was the only explanation for why Chandelure was so eager to arrive. It would also explain how Chandelure seemed to be able to sense something here. But what on Earth did Hisui have to do with Ingo? And what would have a connection tangible enough for Chandelure to feel it, when Ingo hadn't stepped foot out of Unova in years?
His train of thought was interrupted by the arrival of a tour guide with fluffy purple hair and glasses. While those features weren't necessarily uncommon, they vaguely reminded him of Shauntal. He tried not to think about the parallels.
"Hello everyone! My name is Aislin, and I'm your tour guide today. Follow me to the Hisuian Heroes exhibit." After addressing the group, the guide led them all back to that hall thelat Emmet had looked through before. It took everything Emmet had to avoid rushing to the front.
When they entered the hall, they briefly stopped for an overview of the history of the clans. Emmet was briefly annoyed at this, seeing as he already knew the information immediately available, but he pushed it down. Not everyone who visited the exhibit could be expected to know the history, or even look at this part of the museum first.
He stood back and tapped his fingers on his leg as he waited for the group to move on to the exclusive section that was blocked off. So far, there was no new information. He huffed a quiet sigh when the group finally moved on to the Hisuian Heroes exhibit.
To his left was a display with the traditional garb of the Pearl clan, while the Diamond clan's was to his right. Aislin started to explain the clan history in more detail, but the spiel didn't catch his attention until the part about the Era of Reformation.
Apparently, it was a period of time where the relationship between the clans and a third party called the Galaxy Team rapidly improved. Hisui was going under some sort of crisis (the details of which had been lost to time), while the Galaxy team pioneered the use of pokeballs to befriend pokemon. The clans and the Galaxy Team all allied themselves with one another to survive an ordeal simply known as "The Rift".
The only documentations of the Rift were a few sepia photographs of a menacing crack in the sky, spilling light over Sinnoh's tallest mountain. It made Emmet remember his earlier fear of the creation legendaries. He shivered and moved on.
Emmet stopped in front of a paper lantern behind the glass. Something about it caught his eye. His gut feeling was confirmed when Chandelure's ball began to rattle against his side. He pulled on the brim of his hat to keep himself calm.
"I hear you, friend." He took a few pictures of it with his Xtrans while he examined it.
The lantern was a pale pink, emblazoned with the symbol of the pearl clan on the front. Two pale pink cords tipped with fuschia hung from the bottom, and were tied in a pretty bow. For all intents and purposes, it looked like an average festival lantern. For what festival, Emmet had no idea. Culture wasn't his strong suit. He waited for a pause in the tour guide's speech before he spoke up.
"Excuse me. Aislin? Is there something special about this lantern?" He had tried to read the informative plaque, but there were a few words he was unfamiliar with.
"Ah, yes. You have a good eye, sir." The guide stepped up, and Emmet moved out of the way. "This is actually a carefully guarded relic of the Pearl Clan. They have given us permission to display it for a brief period. According to legend, this lantern is the key to summoning a powerful pokemon. For centuries, both the Diamond and Pearl clans have called upon it in times of need, only for it to return to its slumber as soon as the danger has passed. The earliest myths come from the period of reformation. It is said to have facilitated the alliance between the clans despite its apparent ties to the Pearl Clan."
"Ah. I see." Emmet couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed. He was hoping that something the guide said would make everything click. Why Chandelure was drawn here, why he felt like something important was here, why Ingo… but there were no answers. He pulled his hat over his eyes. "I am Emmet. Thank you for your time."
Before the other could answer, the lantern burst into purple flames, and the hall erupted in chaos.
Ingo had been asleep for a very long time. It must have been centuries by now, he was sure. Thank goodness for his newfound ability to hibernate, or he would've had no idea how to keep himself sane otherwise.
Every once in a while, he would wake up to an entirely different clan leader and wonder. How close was he? Had he and his brother been born yet? Had their parents even met? He never felt the tug on his soul pulling him home. He almost forgot what it felt like, but he knew for sure he would recognize it when he felt it again.
Last time he woke up, he knew it was close for sure. The crisis he was called to was familiar, and he vaguely remembered hearing about it back home before he was taken from his time. It was a shock to see Akari, or Dawn as she called herself in this time, but her age and lack of recognition of him told him he still had a few years yet.
Something was urging him awake now. It didn't sound like his normal call. He still found it funny that he taught the Pearl Clan how to mimic a train whistle long before trains even existed.
It was familiar, the voice that stirred him. Through the haze of sleep, he couldn't figure out who it belonged to. Before he could wave the fog out of his mind, another voice cut in. He didn't know this one. He almost settled back down when he heard it.
"I am Emmet."
Ingo awoke with a start. His soul came alive, lighting his vessel with purple flames so reminiscent of his old partner. The pull he had waited for was there; it was alive and strong and so very warm.
Ingo opened his eyes and met his twin's for the first time in centuries. Ingo wished he could still cry, but the paper lantern he used as a body could not oblige.
Emmet looked shocked. His eyes were wide with… fear?
There was noise. People were scattering around the room. Was he in a museum? He guessed Lady Ari went through with her plan, then. He could think about that another time, though. Why was Emmet scared?
Maybe Ingo was burning a bit too brightly in his excitement. He pulled back on his emotions and he dimmed to his normal levels. He trilled with concern as Emmet stared at him. At least he wasn't fleeing like the rest of the people there.
A bit of movement at Emmet's hip caught his eye. Ingo focused on it, and realized it was Chandelure's ball. Oh, Chandelure. He missed her so much. She would be so proud of him. Sent centuries into the past, and he had somehow invented a regional variant of Chandelure.
The pokeball rattled violently enough to snap Emmet out of his reverie. That was good. Emmet wasn't the type to be so still; it looked wrong on him.
"Ah… I am Emmet." He squeaked out. Ingo chirped happily in response. "Your hands are tied together."
So they were. Ingo looked down to see the cords he used as limbs tied in their traditional bow. He couldn't bring himself to be mad anymore. It was like this every time he woke up. Someone of the Pearl clan always tied them. He had a lot of practice with getting them undone, so it was a matter of seconds before his hands were free.
"Are you the legendary guardian of the Pearl Clan Aislin was talking about?" Emmet looked completely lost. Ingo giggled. Loudly. Even as a ghost inhabiting a lantern, he had no volume control. He brought his arms up in a shrug. He had been helping the Pearl Clan when they needed it, but he wouldn't call himself a legendary. The only power advantage he had over normal pokemon was the intelligence and sheer willpower of a human soul. His experience with competitive battling was just a bonus.
"Hmm. I see. Why… why have you woken up? I thought the Pearl clan was supposed to call you?"
Ah. Emmet did not recognize him. Of course he didn't, Ingo was a pokemon. His only resemblance to the man he once was was a frozen frown in black paint and his silver eyes. Ingo needed to fix this.
He drifted through the glass and approached Emmet cautiously. Emmet looked ready to step back, but Ingo was careful not to move too fast and startle him. He held out one hand in invitation for Emmet to approach. Emmet hesitated before taking it.
"You want to come with me?" Emmet asked incredulously. Ingo guessed it would seem strange from his perspective. A seemingly legendary pokemon woke up from years of slumber just to follow him home. Ingo answered an affirmative in the same way he remembered Chandelure did, with a chime like the sound of tinkling glass. The four flames that orbited his body spun like hers when she was excited. It felt like home.
Emmet seemed to understand this. "You sound just like Chandelure."
I learned from the best, Ingo chirped. He knew Emmet wouldn't understand him, but Ingo always found that his unheard words comforted him more than keeping his thoughts to himself.
Chandelure's ball trembled again, but Emmet put his hand over it. "I am very sorry, Chandy. If I let you out, the people who work here might take it as a threat."
I promise we can talk outside, Ingo placated. I can't let them take me away from Emmet. Not after how long I've waited to see him again.
This seemed to pacify her for the time being. Ingo could almost hear the crackling grumble she would give him when she knew he was right, but didn't like it. He whistled his thanks and settled near Emmet. He could feel people approaching, and he figured things were about to get a lot more complicated.
Emmet was so focused on his new company that he jumped when Aislin re-entered the hall with a tall blond man in tow.
"Oh Arceus, you weren't exaggerating, were you? Could you go call the Pearl Clan representative?" The man said, and Aislin immediately scrambled to comply. He turned to Emmet with a sheepish grin. "Sorry to scare you, sir, but this whole situation complicates things quite a bit."
“I am Emmet. That is understandable. It is not every day an ancient relic comes to life and tries to leave with a tourist.” Emmet gestured to the pokemon that was all but hanging off of his shoulder. A ball of flames was close to his cheek, but it was pleasantly cool. He added it to the list of similarities with Chandelure. Perhaps this one was a regional variant? But that didn't line up with how it was described as a legendary pokemon.
“You said it. This pokemon actually doesn’t belong to us. The current representative of the Pearl Clan, Lady Ari, allowed us to temporarily display his lantern for educational purposes, granted it was well protected and he could be returned at a moment’s notice. I'm sure that if she found out we let him go with no word to her, she would have my head.” The man chuckled and pushed a lock of hair behind his ear. The action didn’t get it out of his face at all. “But where are my manners? My name is Volo. I’m the curator and director of this museum.”
“Nice to meet you,” Emmet greeted and held out a hand. Volo paused for a second before shaking it. Ah, Emmet forgot they didn't do handshakes in Sinnoh… but it was too late to fix his mistake, as Volo was already talking again.
“The pleasure is all mine! If I remember correctly, Nobori has been waiting for something for a long time. You must be very special to have caught his attention.”
The pokemon, Nobori as Volo called him, chimed in agreement. Emmet was a bit flattered, but he had no idea what he could have done to earn the favor of a legend.
“I am just a Subway Boss from Unova. But thank you. You called this pokemon Nobori. Is that his species or his name?” Emmet inquired. Emmet was curious about Nobori, and Volo seemed to know a lot about him.
“His name. All attempts to give a name to his species have been met with resistance on his part, so eventually the Pearl Clan settled for a nickname. They named him for his habit of guiding travellers on Mt. Coronet back during the Era of Reformation, when Nobori was still active for most of the time.”
“I see. Have you considered a regional variant? He reminds me of a Chandelure from my home region,” Emmet suggested. Nobori’s flames flared up in response.
“Oh my," Volo gasped. "He seems to like that. Could you show me what a Chandelure looks like? A comparison would be wonderful.” Volo leaned forward in his enthusiasm, but Emmet could tell he was being careful not to crowd his space.
“I actually have a Chandelure here with me. She is a fire type, but she is very well trained, if you will allow me to let her out here.” Emmet unclipped her ball from his belt, keeping his thumb away from the button. After a quick check of the hall, Volo nodded.
“There’s no one here to scare off but me, so I don’t see why not! Besides, there’s already one fire type in here. Just make sure to let her out away from the displays.” Volo had a familiar glint in his eyes. Emmet recognized it from when he and Ingo would talk about trains or battle strategies for hours. Considering the man’s profession, Emmet guessed it was from the hope of learning something new about this historic pokemon. Emmet was all too happy to oblige.
“Chandelure, we have the all clear.” He didn’t even need to press the button on the ball, she left it all on her own. Chandelure appeared in the middle of the room with a flash of light and an excited whistle. Immediately, she rushed to Nobori’s side, and they started to exchange happy chirps with each other.
“Well, those two certainly hit it off,” Volo laughed. “They do look awfully similar, looking at them next to each other. And Nobori reacted well to the name. Nobori, are you a Chandelure?”
Nobori had to pull back from Chandelure to nod, and went right back to their conversation. Volo gaped at the response.
“I can’t believe this! You just solved one of Sinnoh’s oldest mysteries.”
Emmet smirked. “I am glad I could help.”
Volo paused as they watched the two Chandelures enjoy each other's company.
“Nobori has been lonely for a long time,” Volo's voice dropped so only they could hear. “So lonely that he decided to wait out the years sleeping to pass time. I’m glad he has found someone to care for him.”
Emmet hummed. That was a lot on his shoulders for such short notice, but he couldn't say no. Not after seeing how happy the two of them were together. “I am Emmet. I will do my best.”
Neither of them said anything for a while. Emmet had a lot to think about after all the excitement passed. He hadn’t known what to expect when he followed Chandelure across the world, but an ancient Chandelure that watched over an entire region was not what he was expecting. He also didn’t expect to be coming home with another passenger, but he couldn’t even think of leaving Nobori there, and Emmet had plenty of experience with accommodating new pokemon.
“Nobori. If you would like to come home with me, you are welcome to. I hope you don’t mind other pokemon, my brother and I have a lot.” Emmet couldn’t help the crack in his voice at the mention of Ingo. Nobori seemed to sense his sadness, and he rushed to Emmet’s side again with a distressed coo. He hesitantly lifted one of his hands, but he didn’t move further. Emmet pulled his hat down over his eyes again before giving Nobori a gentle pat on the head.
The exhibit was silent again.
Lady Ari was surprisingly quick to arrive at the museum. She probably had a verrry fast flying pokemon. Emmet had Archeops, but his wings weren't built for carrying passengers, so Emmet never taught him how.
The woman was short, dressed in pinks and wearing a simple tiara. The tails of her old-fashioned coat were emblazoned with the Pearl Clan's logo. She wore a collar necklace with a pearl on it. Nobori recognized her on sight, giving her a friendly whistle in greeting.
The encounter was brief but exhausting. Most of what she told him applied to most Chandelures, but he took special note of his preferences. Apparently, Nobori liked sour foods, but he couldn't stand spicy foods. It hurt a little to hear. Those were Ingo's preferences too.
Finally, Emmet gave her his xtransceiver’s contact information before she would let him go. Nobori had responsibilities, so Emmet had to be a middleman if the clan ever needed him. It was a bit daunting to be in the middle of such a serious matter, but at that point Emmet was too drained to object. He had a lot to think about on the way home.
Emmet briskly made his way out of the museum, Chandelure and Nobori flanking him the entire way. The entire incident had apparently caused a commotion in the lobby, so Volo led the group out a staff exit. It was blissfully quiet, save for the occasional gasps of awe from a staff member or the chimes of Emmet’s ghostly companions.
He would have to procure something for the both of them to eat, now. It had been a verrry long day, and Emmet didn’t have the energy to feed Chandelure herself let alone the two of them. Emmet tried to remember what food places he had passed by on the way there, but he was interrupted when Volo stopped.
“Here you are. There shouldn’t be anyone out this way. You might want to avoid the main street until you reach Route 218, though. That is, assuming you’re going straight home?”
“I am Emmet. Nope! My flight leaves tomorrow afternoon." Emmet hadn't known how long he would be staying, so he had booked his return trip pretty late. "I wish to feed my pokemon and find a place to rest our engines.”
"Oh! In that case, how about I suggest a couple places?" Volo took a small pen and notepad out of his pocket and scribbled something down in it. "The Wallflower in Jubilife has the best food this side of the region, and they have a pretty good poffin selection. The Yorokobu Hotel is a nice place to stay, too. Cozy, not too crowded. It's a bit far from the airport, but that gives you the bonus of a nice price." He snapped the page off and offered it to Emmet.
He took it with a grateful smile and a tip of his hat. “Thank you for your help.”
“It was my pleasure. And Nobori?” Volo addressed the paper lantern. His eyes crinkled in a way that made him look at least a decade older. “I’m glad you found your way home.”
Nobori chirped and gave him a pat on the shoulder. Emmet had to hold back a snort at the basketball-sized legendary giving the grown man shoulder pats. It was too cute! Emmet couldn’t wait to introduce Nobori to his Joltiks.
With that, Emmet slipped out into the setting sun. It was incredibly late, and Emmet could feel every minute he had been awake since he got off the plane. The restless three-hour nap he had taken near the end of his flight was not a good substitute for true sleep. Hopefully some food and the resolution of Chandelure's quest would be enough to allow him to sleep tonight.
Emmet awoke with a groan. He wanted to sleep forever, but he knew he had to force himself to move. Ingo wasn't there anymore to drag him out of bed. It was up to him to make sure he was punctual.
He rubbed his eyes and rolled out from under the sheets. They were fluffy, but not as solid as they should be. Where was his weighted blanket?
His awareness came back in bits and pieces. He was in a hotel, not his own room. Looking out the window confirmed where he was. His phone said that it was a few hours before his normal wake up time in Unova, but it was afternoon here in Sinnoh. Emmet must have been asleep for a verrry long time. That was understandable. Yesterday had been a long day.
He turned and took stock of all his things. He didn't unpack much the night before, only a single change of clothes and toiletries for his shower. He had his flight in a few hours, so he needed to be able to gather his things quickly when the time came.
Nobori and Chandelure were sleeping on the couch. Their flames were low enough that they were barely more than a nightlight, and they snored with a soft crackling like a dying campfire. Emmet snuck past them to get ready for the rest of the day.
By the time he was clean and changed, Nobori and Chandelure were awake and staring at the mini fridge. Or rather, Chandelure was staring, and Nobori had a hand on the door.
"Apologies for the delay! I know it has been a long time since you both ate." Emmet took the leftover poffins out of the fridge. Volo wasn't exaggerating when he said the food at the Wallflower was amazing. Emmet really liked his meal, and his two teams loved the poffins so much that he had gotten a couple orders to take home with him.
He set out a few of Nobori and Chandelure's favorites on a plate, and tucked the rest into the inventory storage pocket in his bag. It wouldn't go bad in there, and food wouldn't raise a red flag in airport inspections as long as it was in inventory space.
Emmet finished off his own leftovers while he considered his plans for the flight home. Chandelure had no problem staying in her pokeball for the duration of the flight, but Emmet couldn't say the same for Nobori. He couldn't force a pokeball on Nobori, but there weren't many other options. He decided he might as well run it by the pokemon in question, and see what they can do.
"Nobori. I am Emmet." Emmet started, and Nobori turned his attention to him. The reaction was oddly late. Did Emmet get his name wrong? Nobori dispelled the worry with a nod, though, and gestured for him to go on.
"I will not force you into a pokeball if you do not want it. But airports are verrry strict about what pokemon are allowed out on flights. Do you have a preferred way to travel that would follow the rules?" Perhaps that inactive state he was in at the museum could pass as a normal lantern. Emmet might be able to bring him as a carry-on if worse came to worst.
Nobori whistled an affirmative and spun in a circle. Chandelure giggled at their similar mannerisms. Nobori and Chandelure were incredibly in sync for pokemon who lived in such radically different times.
Nobori reached out and took Emmet's hand. It was a bit startling, especially when the small fragile-looking pokemon dragged him over to his things. They were all packed up neatly and ready to go, minus the few leftover poffins that Chandelure was happily dropping into her central flame.
"What is it?" Emmet inquired. When Nobori gestured to the duffel bag, Emmet could guess what he wanted, but it didn't make much sense. "You want to leave now? My flight is not for another two hours. We will have to wait at the airport a verrry long time."
Nobori crackled and took the strap of the bag in his hands, lifting it and holding it out for Emmet to take. He was once again struck by how deceptively strong the pokemon was.
"Alright, alright. I will take the bag. Yup!" Nobori nodded approvingly, and Emmet slung it over his shoulder. "Now what?"
Nobori whistled, and Chandelure joined them in a small circle in the foyer. She had finished off the treats while Emmet was fussing with Nobori, and now she looked ready to go, too. Emmet quirked a brow at his partners.
In lieu of an answer, Nobori placed a hand on Emmet and Chandelure's arm and held on tight. Before he could ask what he was doing, Nobori flared up with nearly blinding pink light, and the group was surrounded in purple flames.
Their surroundings were completely shrouded in the blaze. For a moment, Emmet felt like he was floating, before his feet touched solid ground again and the inferno fell away, revealing the familiar walls of his apartment.
Emmet spun around in a circle, taking in his new location. Everything was just as he had left it. The bright orange light of sunrise streamed in through the window.
"Wow," Emmet said. "That is incredibly convenient." He didn't expect to be home so early. He supposed that meant he wouldn't have to worry about entertaining himself for the whole half-day flight across the world. Ah, the flight. And the hotel.
"You are lucky I can check out from the hotel online. And cancel my flight," Emmet deadpanned. He set down his things on the coffee table and pulled out his Xtrans.
Nobori shrugged sheepishly. There was a glint of mischief in his silver eyes, and Emmet realized he couldn't stay mad at that face.
"Thank you Nobori. I am glad I don't have to suffer through another plane trip. But please warn me next time."
Nobori nodded. While the lantern pokemon's frown was static on his face, his eyes crinkled just like Chandelure's would. Just like Ingo's did.
Emmet shoved that thought aside. For now, he would unpack and make sure that Nobori was settled in.
Nobori kept looking at Ingo's door. He didn't draw attention to it or ask Emmet about it, but Emmet could tell the ghost was curious.
Well, Nobori was bound to find out eventually. It wasn't like Emmet could hide someone so integral to his life. Besides, Emmet had been putting off saying hello to Ingo since he returned home.
"Nobori, I would like you to meet my brother," Emmet whispered. "His name is Ingo. He is verrry important to me. So you should meet him."
Nobori let out a solemn croon. Emmet wondered if Nobori had read his face or if he could just sense that something was wrong on the other side of the door. It didn't matter. Emmet pulled Nobori into Ingo's room and flicked on the light.
If it weren't for the silent monitors and the garish frame of the hospital bed, Emmet could almost pretend Ingo was just sleeping. He was neatly tucked under the red sheets. His permanent frown was small and relaxed, and Emmet took a few seconds to watch his chest rise and fall with slow, deep breaths.
Ingo’s Audino was already awake, having heard Emmet arrive with Nobori. She looked curious to meet his new passenger, but she instead busied herself with checking over her patient. She was a hardworking pokemon, and Emmet appreciated all of her help over the past couple months.
Emmet took a seat by the bed. Ingo’s desk chair had been next to the bed for so long that the indents in the carpet by the desk had long since faded. Emmet reached over and took Ingo’s hand.
“Good morning Ingo.” Emmet called. Ingo’s eyes fluttered open, glassy and empty as they always were. The doctors said that responding to touch was a good sign, but Ingo had been like this since the beginning with no improvements. Emmet didn’t have much hope left. “I picked up another stray yesterday. He is a Chandelure. I think you would like him.”
Nobori made a sad warble from the door. When Emmet looked back at him, he floated a few inches into the room before stopping. His hands were twined together, reminiscent of how Ingo used to fidget when he was anxious. It was almost like he was asking for permission to get closer.
“You may come in, if you want to.” Emmet granted him. With that, Nobori cautiously approached. When he reached the end of the bed, Emmet felt a twitch in his hand.
“Ingo?” Emmet turned to look at his brother, and he gasped. Ingo’s eyes were wide open and more alert than they had been since he fell into a vegetative state. Ingo was looking past Emmet, his eyes locked on Nobori.
"Ingo, what's wrong?" His voice rose in pitch as he placed his hands on Ingo's shoulders. He knew Ingo wouldn't say anything, he hadn't said anything in months, but Emmet at least hoped to get his attention. Ingo didn't look at him. His focus was wholly on Nobori.
Emmet didn't want to hope. It had been so long with no progress, it was easier to just believe that Ingo couldn't recover. The trip to Sinnoh seemed to be a dead end for all that it grew Emmet's family. But when Ingo reached out with one shaking hand towards his new companion, Emmet's stomach did a flip. And then Ingo spoke.
"Please…" It was the quietest thing Emmet had ever heard from his brother, but it pierced the silence like a thunderclap. Before Emmet could process it, Nobori rushed forward and placed his head against Ingo's outstretched palm.
The lantern made a soft thump as it dropped to the bed, dark and quiet. Emmet was speechless as he frantically looked between the lifeless ball of paper and his brother, trying to figure out what happened.
Ingo blinked. Once. Twice. And then he looked Emmet in the eyes.
“Emmet?” The voice was hoarse with disuse, but it was Ingo’s.
Emmet choked on a sob and pulled Ingo into a hug. Ingo returned it with atrophied arms, but to Emmet, it was more than enough.
“Ingo! You are awake!” Emmet blubbered through thick tears. His nose was already stuffed.
“Indeed! I am back at my home station.” Ingo cheered with him.
“But how? And Swords, what happened to Nobori?” Emmet delicately picked up the lantern and looked at it with concern.
“It’s a long story. And don’t worry about Nobori, brother, he’s fine.” This time, when Ingo laughed, Emmet could hear a faint trilling undertone replacing the scratchy hoarseness in Ingo's voice.
“How do you know that?”
“Because I am Nobori!” Ingo’s lips turned up at the edges in a goofy smile.
"Brother. What?" Emmet stared blankly at the lantern in his hands. That was the most ridiculous thing he had heard all day. How could Ingo be Nobori?
"The lantern. That was me in there! I was just a spirit, so I used it as a way to interact with the world. I'm glad my original cab is still in working order, though. Lanterns aren't good for talking."
"You… you were minimally concious this whole time… because your spirit was in a lantern in Sinnoh," Emmet wheezed as he pointed at Ingo, at the lifeless Nobori, and then at Ingo again. He felt like his brain was fried. He couldn't wrap his head around the idea. Ingo nodded enthusiastically.
"I will explain everything, but my throat hurts. I don’t think my body is used to talking so much.”
“Haha… that is funny because usually you do all the talking for the both of us,” Emmet said before he took a break to just breathe. Now that he had calmed down, he could notice a few differences that added credibility to Ingo’s statement. The most obvious were the various Chandelure-like sounds that Ingo was making, but if Emmet looked closely, he could see a spark of pinkish-purple light in Ingo’s eyes.
“Verrry funny.” Ingo drew out the “r”s in the word just like Emmet. "I missed you."
"Me too, brother."
After Emmet gave Ingo a cup of water for his throat, they sat together on the bed for hours as he told Emmet everything. About how his soul was torn from his body by a strange tear in space time. How he woke up in Hisui, three hundred years in the past. How he mourned when he realized that his brother wouldn't be born for centuries. How he looked for a way to interact with the world as a ghost until he found a paper lantern and it just clicked.
Emmet cried again when Ingo told him that he thought he had died. They held each other and Emmet reassured him that he was still there and still alive. Emmet told Ingo of how he had cared for his body the whole time, no matter how heartbreaking it was to see his brother so empty and silent. How all it was worth it now that Ingo was back.
It was around that point that Emmet and Ingo’s pokemon ran into the room for reunion hugs. The twins figured Chandelure must have ushered them out of their balls and explained what was happening, but neither of them minded the commotion. Pokemon cuddle piles were always welcome in their home, and they needed something to lighten the mood. They talked about happier things from there on out.
Emmet was floored as Ingo described all of his adventures as a pokemon. He was there to witness the closing of the rift in spacetime, the truce between the two clans, and he even helped foil two plans to destroy the world. Ingo tried to convince him that that role he played in that was only minor both times, and that most of his time awake was spent looking for missing people or calming down an unruly pokemon that was too much for the champion or clan leaders.
Emmet was having none of it. His brother was a hero! The conversation about Ingo's habit of saving the world did remind Emmet of something he learned from the museum, though.
“I am Emmet. Legendaries are not allowed on the battle subway,” Emmet deadpanned.
“I’m not a legendary! I’m human again. And besides, I was a Chandelure, which is allowed.” Ingo stuck his tongue out at Emmet, and Emmet could swear he heard a crackling sound coming from Ingo.
“Last I checked, humans did not grumble like Chandelures. And normal Chandelures don’t guard an entire region for centuries.”
Ingo buried his face in his pillow. Emmet took his lack of response as a win, and he pumped his fist. Chandelure had no mercy for her trainer, laughing at his expense with Emmet.
Things weren’t going to go back to normal immediately. Ingo’s body was frail from so much time asleep, and he had a long recovery ahead of him. At the same time, his mind was different from before. He had lived as a pokemon for years in the span that he was gone, even without counting the time he spent asleep. Ingo would probably never be the same again.
But Emmet couldn't care less about all of that. Talking with his brother gave him hope for their future again. Ingo was Ingo, and Emmet was just happy to have him back. Any other roadblocks would be temporary delays, and the twins would face them together.