As the skies grew darker, so too did the thoughts of the Miltank. Malt's heart raced as he ran in the direction the Audino had pointed him in. But he wouldn't dare think the Kecleon had done the worst to herself—not when she still had so much to do. Then again, the crumpled up, folded map was thrown in his hands before PK left…but it couldn't possibly mean anything terrible like that…could it? The thought made his adrenaline rush at levels he'd never felt before, and by the time he reached the forest, he didn't realize how out of breath he was from running all that way. He didn't even realize there was a strange, groaning sound coming from inside the forest until he stopped. And that sound was all too familiar. It echoed and moaned like a mourning, wailing ghost Pokémon—Malt's eyes widened at the sound, his breaths nervous and heavy.
He knew that voice from anywhere—it had to be PK.
He followed the sound like an angry Tauros on a mission, hell-bent on seeing that his new partner was safe. He refused to let something happen to her now—Malt knew that if he ever came back, there would be no telling what would happen if something were to happen to PK, no sure sign of what Malt's fate would be. Despite his heavy breaths in the rainy canopy, Malt followed the voice until it became louder, its echoes becoming all too real. Deep in an opening of the forest, in a small, rain-covered grove a distance away from Tao Village, there stood PK, talking and wailing to something…or someone. Her cries echoed throughout the entire forest, and her voice was barely audible from where Malt stood. He hid behind a tree, curious to pick up on what PK was talking about, or who she was talking to.
"…No…why did you…that…?! …You…have stayed! Couldn't you…else…?!" echoed the voice, high-pitched and filled with a sobbing sadness. Malt's ears couldn't pick up the entire conversation; he edged closer to another tree, trying not to agitate the brush, lest the sounds be picked up by the fellow merchant. Her words became clearer, with less of an echo—she spoke as if an invisible soul were there, listening to her, even stopping sometimes as if she were being interrupted.
"But you didn't have to go! You picked the worst possible time! Why--" PK stopped, as if someone had truly interrupted her. But no voice came through the canopy—only echoes and moans from the Kecleon, and the windy sounds of the forest floor.
"Yes, yes you did!" she continued on, "You left without warning, Sorbet, and now you leave me with…with this broken up village!"
Malt stood transfixed by the conversation PK was having with herself—he noticed her scales seemed even darker than usual in the rainy forest air, and why, he couldn't help but ask himself, did she mention Sorbet…? He was long gone, now, so why did she mention him? Did she think he was there, talking to her? Was that the very same voice she was supposedly hearing…?
"Sorbet?" Malt whispered under his breath, but even the slightest sound of his voice agitated the Kecleon. Quickly, she turned to face the tree Malt stood behind, her sharp eyes striking again, distinguishing the light brown of Malt's skin from the verdant grasses and leaves that lined the forest. PK looked in disgust at the Miltank, her eyes aglow with anger.
"I told you not to follow me," she muttered, barely audible to the Miltank, "Why did you follow me?" For a second, Malt couldn't answer. His partner's sharp replies and cutting words were like Poison Stings to him, each and every one.
"I…I was worried about you," Was the first thing he could think of, but his thoughts quickly switched gears as he asked, "Why are you talking to…Sorbet? He's not--"
"Yes he is!" PK virulently shouted, her scales turning even darker, "He's right here!" She pointed at an empty spot on the ground—Malt could only assume the lack of sleep was making her see things, including what could only be a ghost of Sorbet. He had no words to give her, only a blank stare that left PK angrily wondering what he was thinking at that moment.
"What, you think I'm lying?" she asked the Miltank, throwing her hands on her hips, "You think I'm just making all of this up?! Can't you see him?!" Still the Miltank was wordless and with an empty expression. He tried his best to say something, anything, but no words came out. At that PK's face glowed with a maroon shade that Malt had never seen before, instilling a deep fear in his chest…
"Dammit, he's right…right here…!" PK pointed again towards the empty spot in the grove, her color quickly turning to an ominous dark shade again, "Why…why can't you see him…!?" Her voice rose higher and louder, startling Malt from his shock. It was enough to give him words to speak, in hopes that he could calm the Kecleon down.
"PK…your volume…it's…" Malt tried to say, but he couldn't get his point across, "Sapling Village is close by, and--" But he was cut off by a furious PK; her scales were aglow with red when she heard the name of the neighboring village.
"I don't care if they hear me!" She cried—Malt noticed a tear run down her face, if not briefly, "Sorbet and I…We'll wake the whole damn village up if we have to! We'll wake him up, too…see how he likes it!"
"Is…is that what this is about?" asked Malt, keeping his volume low and solemn, "You can't sleep because he's gone? You're seeing and hearing Sorbet because he's gone, too?" But PK said nothing, that is, she had no words to say. But she was still able to get her message across. Her eyes grew red and puffy; her color grew even darker, dark enough for almost all of her to blend in with her surroundings in the forest. Only the red zigzag stripe that lay on her stomach was visible at one point—Malt took a few steps forward upon seeing this, trying to comfort his friend and partner as her invisible sobs shook the forest. As he embraced the visible red zigzag, PK's color slowly began to become visible again, albeit a dark, dark black.
"They're gone forever, aren't they…?" the Kecleon cried, sniffling a bit as she did, "And even if they're not…it won't ever be the same…he won't--Shroomy won't forgive me for what I've done to him…"
"We don't know that for sure, though!" Malt tried to argue, a sad smile spread upon his face, "He might come back…he might. We have to be strong and rebuild for now, though. We have to." As he finished, he tightened his grip on the fellow normal-type, trying to hold back tears, as well. He had to be the strong one this time. No matter what happened, no matter how bad it got, Malt had to overcome this challenge head on with PK, even if it took months to do it.
"We'll find a way," PK wiped a tear off of her face, frustrated, "We'll make it perfect, Malt—the village, I mean…We have to make it better again. For Sorbet…for everyone…for Shroomy, too, even…even if he won't forgive me…even if he won't come back."
"But he will," Malt said simply, a brave look on his face, "I think—no, I know he will. I believe he will. And you do, too, PK. We have to keep our heads up, no matter what happens."
"Keep our heads up…" PK repeated, sighing a bit as she did. Just saying it, just trying to think about it was a challenge, but she kept thinking about it, no matter what pains began to ache in her chest. She would push away those pains if it meant things would or could get better, "…Fine. It won't be the same, but…let's go and do that."
"Let's be strong, PK," Malt replied with a brave smile, holding his hoof out to beckon the Kecleon, "Let's go home." Just the thought…the thought of going home to that home filled with memories of things she didn't want to think about…Well, yes, the memories were there.
But that didn't mean she couldn't create new ones. It didn't mean everything was over. And as she took Malt's hoof in her hand, she knew out of all of this, something was possible. She didn't know what, exactly, but something. Something perfect, something that would grow into prosperity. As they walked home together, they discussed their plans—including a long needed sleep for PK—and a hope for the village.
Final part of the story by