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everybody says that nothing ever lasts forever, so I'm hanging on tight trying to keep it all tied together

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Charizard doesn’t like people, in general.

Well, that’s not strictly true. She likes kids alright, they’re small and often silly and she can see they’re at least trying their best. Plus, they make Leon smile, so they’re alright. Teenagers are a bit more complicated, because they still make Leon smile, which should be enough, but they’re also often big enough to be brave and feel like they can touch and that gets tiring really quickly.

Adults, though.

There’s so very few adults she’s met that she wouldn’t mind giving a good bite. A nice crunch and maybe then they’d learn to leave Leon alone. Adults don’t make Leon smile, they make him anxious and nervous and self-conscious. She hates that. She hates that he can’t really laugh when he wants to, or say what he means to, or even look at things the way he used to. But whenever she starts talking herself into it – really, realistically, all it would take would be one bite, just to get the message across – he’s looking at her over his shoulder, gently shaking his head, like he can hear her thoughts. He can’t, she’s the wrong type for that – she’s not jealous of the others, she’s the first and the best and they understand each other just fine as it is, it’s her the others should be jealous of, after all – but he can always tell.

It would be better to say that charizard is picky about the people she likes.

She likes Gloria, who definitely makes Leon smile for all he tries to pretend she doesn’t. She likes Carl, their cab driver, who still gives Leon sweets like he’s still ten, even though he’s not anymore. She likes all of Leon’s family, of course, who are kind and loving and always try to make Leon feel like he belongs.

But if she had to admit it, she’d say she likes Raihan best, out of all the people that orbit around Leon.

She even tried not to like him, in the beginning. Leon likes to fight for the sake of fighting, but charizard likes to fight for the sake of winning. Everyone they send out against her, she wants to knock out and show them who’s boss. She was the strongest pokemon around, for the longest time, and she’s not afraid to show it. She didn’t get so far by not enjoying what they do, after all! She remembers when she wasn’t that strong, that year they traveled around Galar getting badges and picking fights with Sonia and Sonia’s pokemon every step of the way. She’s so much stronger, now, that almost no one feels like a challenge. Gloria would be, but Leon will not fight her, she knows, almost like she can read his mind, but doesn’t need to. Raihan, though, he’ll fight over and over again, no matter how many times it ends the same way.

She ought to be bored of that, but she’s not. Because Raihan ought to be bitter about it, and he’s not.

He makes them work for it, not just her, not just Leon, all of them.

She would deign not to bite him, for that, for how fun it is to fight him and his team, for how much he makes Leon smile, like he’s small and carefree again, and the smile comes from deep within and spreads out all over his face and his eyes. Leon smiles like that so rarely now – charizard wants to bite every single adult that made him stop, crunch, until they leave him alone – that anyone who gives him that is someone she’d gladly tolerate.

But Raihan is likable, and loathe as she is to admit it, she’s grown fond of him, over the months they’ve spent living in the same space. His pokemon like him, of course, crowd at his feet for treats and pettings and being told sweet things, much the same way Leon’s other pokemon do to him – not her, though, she never begs for anything, from anyone, because she knows she’s the first and the best and the favorite, and only foolish idiots would not realize it. Raihan extends the same treatment to all of Leon’s pokemon, but not her. Her, he treats with deference, like he too can tell she is the first and best and favorite, that she’s special. Haxorus and dragapult fold easily, of course, because it was Raihan that raised them in the first place and one never truly forgets the one who raises them – she remembers, even now, being small and light and spending six months with her feet barely touching the ground, forever held in Leon’s arms – Mr. Rime and aegislash take longer, but they fold all the same. Rillaboom, seismitoad, rhyperior, they too end up taking kindly upon Raihan’s hands and Raihan’s words and Raihan’s treats. Even the ghosts, who are frightfully spiteful, she knows, who play tricks and get mean just for fun, even they settle in and never step out of line, whenever Raihan is around.

He makes Leon happy, they can tell, and he’s kind and nice and doesn’t hold grudges, even after all their fights.

She wouldn’t be swayed just by that, however, she doesn’t give her affection easily.

“I heard a rumor,” Raihan tells her one day – he talks a lot to her, coming to sit by where she’s busy sunbathing, carrying a plastic box, “that you really like dry berries.”

Charizard grunts at him, tail swishing slowly, as she watches him pull out a berry from the box. It’s not one she’s ever seen before, which piques her interest, because yes, she likes dry berries – Leon keeps a stack of chesto berries just for her, and she gets a bowl a day, as a snack, when they don’t have battles scheduled.

“They’re not always in season, but I reckoned you’d like to try them?”

She sniffs around his fingers, as he offers it, and ponders for a moment biting his hand almost just to see what he’ll do. It’s what most people deserve, shoving their fingers close to her mouth, after all, but this is Raihan and he makes Leon happy and he doesn’t insult her dignity, so she’s come to accept the fact she likes him after all.

So she doesn’t bite.

“There’s a good girl,” Raihan says, watching her sit up by his side, peering curiously at the box and then taking another berry – they’re good, really good – while giving him a suspicious enough look, almost daring him to take the box away. “You can take your time.”

She grunts at him, a hint of flame in her nostrils as she chews thoughtfully, not looking at him.

He’s kind and he’s nice and he makes Leon’s smile, but that’s not why she likes him. She’s smarter than that, after all. She’s the first and the best and the favorite, and there’s nothing Leon does not tell her. She likes Raihan because he understands her bond with her master, in a way most people don’t. She likes him because he’s smart enough to see through her and into Leon, all the bits and pieces she’s kept vigil of, over the years.

Maybe one day, she’ll even let him see those secrets.