Latias only half-listened to the exchange between the Doctor and Buck, tuning out as conversation drew away from the ruins themselves. She had no interest in these other landmarks. Five years earlier, talk of exploration would have ensnared her young senses but now Latias hadn’t the luxury of having interests. She had only a short list of fixations; primarily matters of life and death.
"Of course! We forgot about her bug sting! If I recall correctly..."
She hadn’t wanted to bring the issue up again – keen to resolve it herself, but the Doctor’s concern touched her more than she cared to admit. A small smile touched her tired face as the Abra darted off towards a nearby berry bush. When did that get there? Latias had been oblivious. She’d hardly processed how far the small group had travelled in the past few minutes, seemingly gliding on auto-pilot and allowing another to take control. She shuddered, a chill running down her spine at the realization of how unaware she truly was. She had always been an attentive individual and this strengthening nescience only provided another symptom of her declining condition.
"Haa! Found them! This should be enough to make you right! Right as rain!"
“Oh…” The quiet utterance left her lips before she could catch it. Usually she would’ve flinched away at the psychic’s touch, but in that moment Latias resigned herself to the intimacy. It was… nice. Warm. The legendary felt it, and relished in the contact of a creature who cared. Her smile was shy as she accepted the berries. “Thank you,”
"And now it seems we're even, after what Tails' had told me about before..."
The Doctor’s face changed suddenly, slipping into a state of fear that infected Latias. She instinctively recoiled away from him as he leapt away, suddenly frenzied and scanning for something she had forgotten herself.
“Where are they? Where's Tails? Where are the others?"
“Wait!” A rush of panic shot through her veins at the prospect of the male’s departure. I can’t lose you. Her feelings, powerful, were inexplicable. She hadn’t felt such an attachment since Latios, and the threat of losing him terrified the legendary. She had let her defences down, allowing in some foreign emotion to stimulate her aching heart and now, she realized it.
Catching herself before she moved to pursue the Abra, she exhaled deeply and closed her eyes. You can’t do this. You can’t get attached. She scolded herself viciously. It will only hurt more when they’re gone. When they’re dead…
And everyone dies in the end.
She gasped loudly, eyes wide at hearing the stranger in her head.
"We have to go back for them! They won't last outside at night! Not here, not by themselves!" The Doctor had come back, angrily insisting that they should search for the missing parties. Latias, shaken but determined, silenced her panic by hurriedly consuming the berries. She distracted herself with the problem at hand as the items’ healing properties worked to alleviate an amount of her pain.
Latias liked the fox, troubled as she seemed, and possessed a quiet concern for the female. The young Buizel was endearing but still a stranger to the legend. The bird was an annoyance, the muzzled hound a paradox, and the human she was quietly glad to be rid of. She didn’t trust their kind. Not after this mess.
"I dunno, Doc ... it's getting kind of dark. I wouldn't want us to end up getting lost out here. Besides...” Buck was the voice of reason, responding with a rationality Latias admired. “Maybe they didn't 'get lost' - it could've been their choice to leave us. They don't seem like the type to just wander off and randomly get themselves lost." It made sense. She had forgotten them effortlessly and perhaps… they had chosen to do the same.
“I… I agree,” Latias finally admitted, knowing full-well that it wasn’t the response the Doctor would want to hear. “They’re strong. They can look after themselves. They can survive the night, and if they’re looking for us, I’ve no doubt they’ll find us. Leave a sign – something they can follow? They’re smart, Doctor,”
“And, we –“ Latias stopped herself. “I, need to rest,” The correction, the admittance that she was in fact weak was crippling to her ego. It was as humiliating as it was painful, evident in her features as she determinedly avoided eye contact with either of the males. “We can look for them tomorrow,”
If they’re alive.