As I use characters who don't yet have English Names in this story, I used everyone's Japanese names. A guide is below for those of you who are unfamiliar with Japanese names.
Characters Guide: [N/A] means that it doesn’t have an English name yet. An explanation will be given as to who each [N/A] is. Names are listed in order of appearance.
Satoshi - Ash
Masato - Max
Shinou - Sinnoh
Hikari -[N/A] A Pokémon Coordinator Satoshi meets in the Shinou Region.
Pikachu - National Pokédex #025 Pikachu
Takeshi - Brock
Shigeru - Gary
Shinji - [N/A] A rival Satoshi makes in the Shinou Region.
Haruka - May
Joi - Joy
Pochama - [N/A] National Pokédex #393
Jouto - Johto
Jukain - National Pokédex #254 Sceptile
Donfan - National Pokédex #232 Donphan
Kasumi - Misty
Shuu - Drew
Eipam - National Pokédex #190 Aipom
Naetle - [N/A] National Pokédex #387
Mukkuru - [N/A] National Pokédex #396
Touka City - Petalburg City
Eievui - National Pokédex #133 Eevee
“Oh, and Satoshi?” he asked me, bright eyed behind his glasses.
“Yeah, Masato?” I spoke into the receiver.
“I was telling Onee-chan about your adventures in Shinou one day, and she seemed sad when I mentioned Hikari,” a sad look fell across his face. “Do you think you could give her a call and cheer her up?”
A lump rose in my throat. “S-sure, Masato. I’d be happy to give her a call.”
“Thanks, Satoshi. She was supposed to enter a contest today, but I’m not sure which one,” he sighed.
“Don’t worry, Masato. I’m sure I can find it,” I grinned in that way that let everyone know I was confident in myself.
“Great. I better go now and give my mom and dad a call.”
I hung up the phone and spun in the chair. I knew Pikachu could see the look on my face. I leaned over and picked up my pack. Pikachu climbed to my shoulder and looked into the pack, wondering what I was pulling out.
I dug around my backpack and looked for it. It hadn’t been that long since I left, had it? When I went to Shinou with Takeshi. But according to Masato, she missed me.
I tried to wrap my mind around that. She missed me. Wait, maybe I was jumping to conclusions.
According to Masato, she was sad when he mentioned Hikari. Did she maybe think I was interested in her? I hope not. Hikari can be a nice girl, but she can also be a bit of a brat. She fits right in with that Pochama of hers. Too proud for their own good.
She was just in a contest? I hope she’s been doing better against her rivals than I have. What with Shigeru deflating me right after I won the Battle Frontier, and Shinji being a jerk. Why do all the jerks gravitate to me?
Haruka wasn’t one of those jerks, though. She’s a sweet girl, kinda airheaded at times, but she always meant well. She’s also got that nice body…
“Knock it off, Satoshi!” I shouted to myself, causing Pikachu to worry. He tugged at my hair, wondering what I had shouted at myself for. “I’m okay, Pikachu,” I told him. I know he didn’t believe me. But being my friend, he decided he wouldn’t press the issue.
“Hey, Takeshi,” I called for my friend. Luckily he hadn’t seen the resident Joi yet, so I could count on his help.
“Hey, Satoshi,” He stepped up to me, “have you seen Hikari?”
“No,” I shook my head. I didn’t tell him how glad I was to be rid of her, if only for a tiny bit.
“That’s a shame,” he sighed. “I wanted to see if Pochama wanted to try some of the new food I prepared, but I guess it can wait. What do you need?”
“I just got off the phone with Masato,” I explained. “He said Haruka was in a contest today, and I wanted to check up on her. Could you do an internet search and see if you can find her for me?”
“Still not confident with computers, eh, Satoshi?” he smirked, as if he knew something else was up. “I’ll be happy to find where the contest Haruka was in was.”
“Thanks, Takeshi,” I smiled. My friend went to work on the PC in the corner, doing a search for recent contests in Jouto.
I sat on the chair in front of the phone I had used talking to Masato. I gave myself a quick spin, and then I remembered that I left my pack open on the floor. Oops. I picked it up and began digging in it, again.
This time, I found what I was looking for. The ribbon. Well, half of the ribbon. Haruka and I had a battle the day she left, and we won a ribbon for it. I had Jukain cut it in half, so we could share it.
I found myself often taking out that ribbon before I went to sleep. I thought about Haruka, and worried about how she must be doing, so far away. I guess I liked her. I used to like Kasumi, but it was never a really serious thing. The only serious thing I got from her was a headache from where she’d keep bludgeoning me over the head with stuff. Was I ever serious with Haruka? There was that time. The one when we were on the island with the Donfan. But I could never do much with Shuu around.
I myself found flipping the end of the ribbon. So what if she went to Jouto after Shuu? I didn’t like her did I? Did I?
I swallowed, my gut not giving me the answer that was hoping for. Do I like her?
What’s not to like about her? Haruka’s a kind girl. She’s very sweet, and is always thinking of others. And I’ve certainly gotten along with her better than either Kasumi or Hikari.
“Hey, Satoshi,” Takeshi broke my concentration, “I found the Pokémon Center she might be staying at. You wanna give her that call, or should I?”
“I’ll do it!” I leapt up, knocking Pikachu from my shoulder.
Takeshi raised his eyebrow at my insistence. “Alright, here’s the number,” he said, pointing out the digits he had located on the computer. “I’m going to go give my Pokémon to Joi-san. Would you like me to take yours?”
Sure, whatever, anything for a moment of privacy. “Thanks, Takeshi,” I handed him Eipam, Naetle and Mukkuru’s Monster Balls. “I’ll keep Pikachu with me, though.”
“As always,” Takeshi grinned as he turned away.
I quickly remembered the number and took Pikachu back to the phone that my pack was sitting next to. I looked into my hand and realized that I was still holding the ribbon. Haruka…
I sat in the chair and spun for a second, causing Pikachu to get slightly dizzy. I looked at the buttons on the phone as I picked up the receiver. I took in a deep breath before I raised my finger to dial the number. I felt my pulse picking up, and backed down from dialing.
What was I afraid of? Why didn’t I want to talk to her? I knew that I would look into the screen and see Shuu there hanging on her arm. I just knew it. Why would I set myself up for such disaster?
I did promise Masato that I would, though. And I never go back from a promise. Beginning to hate my self-imposed guidelines for loyalty, I dialed in the phone number as quickly as I could.
As the phone rang, I could feel my heart beating out of my chest. My eyes widened, and I would have sworn that I was sweating ice cubes. Thankfully, Pikachu was supporting me, staying at my side on my arm. At least Pikachu would never go with another guy.
I took my gaze off the screen and played with the ribbon more while it was in my lap. I smiled at the reflection that I saw from the lights. The medal on the ribbon sparkled like her eyes.
I was brought out of my delusion by Joi’s face appearing on the screen.
“Oh, hello,” Joi smiled at me in her disarming way. “May I help you?”
I let out a sigh of relief, glad that Haruka wasn’t on the other end now. “Uh, yeah,” I started, “I think I might have a friend there by the name of Haruka. Is she at this Center?”
Joi typed away at her keyboard for a moment. “Haruka from Touka City?”
“Yeah, that’s her!” I almost leapt from my seat. Geez, Satoshi, get a hold of yourself!
“I’ll let her know, and transfer the call over to one of the public phones, alright?” Joi smiled at me in a helpful way.
“Thank you, Joi-san,” I sighed as she turned away to fetch Haruka. I sat up in my chair. I was determined not to let her see that I’ve been losing. I had to inspire confidence. Girls like that, right? I’d just hit a rough patch, is all. I expected to hear how Haruka had wiped out Shuu in a grand battle. I had psyched myself out for this great story. I felt a grin grow over my face as Joi stepped over again.
“Alright, I’m transferring you now.” She pressed a button on the phone.
Suddenly, I sat before her. So I said the first thing that came to mind. “Hey, Haruka!” I wanted to greet her, and make her feel like we were still as close as the day she left.
Haruka was still dressed in her red outfit with matching bandana. Not that that was a bad thing. I always though she looked really pre-I mean, nice in it. Her hair hung in the air to the sides of her face, and I saw a cu- I mean, I saw a small smile grow across her face.
“Satoshi!” she squealed. “How did you find out I was here?”
Time to pretend to be impressive, I inwardly grinned. “I just got off the phone with Masato, and he told me that you were in a contest today. A quick internet search and some help from Takeshi, and I found the center I thought you were at!” Yeah, that version makes it seem like I did most of the work, not Takeshi.
“Well, I’m glad to see you,” she smiled at me. Her sapphire eyes were telling me that something was wrong. And then she let it out.
“I lost again, Satoshi.”
“Again?” Wait, ‘again’? Haruka’s been losing, too? “What happened?” She was spectacular in our battle before she left. What could have thrown her game?
"Yes, again,” she looked away from me. "I don't know what's happened. I just can't seem go get back into the groove."
"Well, that means you've just gotta try harder next time!" I spouted off, trying to inspire her like I did in the old days. Pikachu spoke up, too. I was glad to have him on my side. Pikachu is a valuable partner, especially when I should be really nervous about talking to this girl. "Just work a bit harder, and I'm sure you can do it!" I followed up. Haruka needs a confidence boost, that’s all.
She didn’t say anything after that. She continued to look away from the screen, focusing on her Eievui that she held in her lap. “Don’t give up, Haruka,” I whispered quietly. “Not when I…”
No. Not now. Anytime else, but certainly not now.
“Who are you talking to?” she stepped over. Hikari doesn’t know when she’s not wanted. That’s precisely when Hikari would always come over.
“Oh, Hikari,” I tried to remain pleasant. "This is Haruka, the Coordinator I've told you about." I, in turn, introduced Haruka to Hikari. "Haruka, this is Hikari. We met shortly after Takeshi and I came to Shinou. She's a coordinator, too."
"Oh, that's great." I could tell she was less than enthusiastic when she said that. Her eyes dimmed from the vigor they held earlier when she squealed my name. This must be the kind of thing Masato picked up on. I wanted so badly to push Hikari away, seeing her effect on my Haru-chan. "Seems like you're getting along just fine in Shinou, Satoshi." Haruka broke my concentration and gave me a moment to rethink what I had just thought. Since when was she my Haru-chan? Not that I wouldn’t want her to be mine…
And Hikari doesn’t know when to shut up. "Oh, wow, are you really Haruka-san?" she oozed. For a moment, I was worried that Hikari might like Haruka more than I thought. "Satoshi has told me so much about you. You're even more amazing now that I've seen you!"
I gulped. "Oh really?" she asked. I gulped again. "What's he told you?"
I had told her about the ribbon. How I got it from a girl I used to travel with. Hikari and I would talk some nights after Takeshi went to sleep, and I was often looking at the ribbon and thinking about Haruka during these times. So Haruka often came up in my conversations with her at night.
"He's told me all about your contests, and how you've almost won an Grand Festival on you second try!" Hikari gushed with the kind of fangirlism that I was used to seeing Shigeru get. But I knew that enough was enough, and I would have to disarm this potentially threatening presence. "He also told me about-”
"Hikari," I pushed her to the side, “why don't you go find Takeshi and make sure he's not bothering Joi. I'd like to talk to Haruka alone for a bit.” I felt my cheeks turn a shade more crimson as the words left my mouth.
"Oh," Hikari glared at me with a gaze that would paralyze even the bravest trainers. Then she turned to Haruka and spat an “I see,” at her. She threw a fit as she left. I knew that I’d have to put up with her taunting later. More than likely something about Haruka and me kissing privately in a tree, followed shortly by a courtship, wedding, and children.
“Thanks,” she smiled back at me, causing that ever-familiar lump to rise back up in my throat. "So what did you want to me talk about?"
"I guess I missed you since you've been gone in Jouto," I spilled the beans. I looked away from her and focused on the ribbon in my lap. Why couldn’t I just be smooth about it? "And I could tell Hikari was rubbing you the wrong way," I added, trying to make her forget about what I said.
"How'd you ever come to that conclusion?" Haruka asked sarcastically. Part of me wanted to laugh about it, but another was sad. I had succeeded in making her forget about me missing her.
“I-I saw how your eyes changed when she came over," I kept playing with the ribbon. I wanted to show her. Show her how important she was to me. That I really cared about her. Why was it so hard to tell her? I miss you, Haruka. I miss your warm smile. Your soft face. Your hair, even.
"Satoshi, I have something I need to ask you,” she said. I sat up and suppressed a grin. She wanted to ask me something? Was she going to ask the question?
"Yeah, Haruka?" I just had to know.
"Well, I was wondering if you still had that ribbon we won back in Kanto, before I left for Jouto?"
And the lump came rushing back into my throat. “Y-yeah,” I looked down at the ribbon, and quickly thought about what it meant. We won this together in a contest. Together. Without Shuu hanging around to mess me up. Shuu… I had to ask her. “Have you seen Shuu since you’ve been in Jouto?”
"Yeah, I have,” she told me. “We meet up at contests here and there. He's still giving me roses." I felt like a dagger stuck into my stomach and turned. Shuu is still hanging around her, giving her those damnable roses. While I’m too far away to even begin to do the same thing. "And the roses are still dieing. I couldn't keep them alive if I wanted to." Haruka always knew how to cheer me up. This time was no exception. She reminded me of her complete inability to keep them alive longer than an evening, something we had joked about together. Without Shuu.
“Satoshi, what are you fiddling with?" she asked me.
I was still focused on the ribbon. "It's... I..." I tried to get out a flustered response. Pikachu patted me for support. Thanks, Pikachu. I slowly brought the ribbon into her view. What would she think about it? "If Hikari saw me right now, she'd just be making fun of me," I huffed at the blue-haired girl who was thankfully away right now. I turned my attention back to Haruka. "I've been looking at this and thinking about you, Haruka,” I admitted to her. She’s gonna think I like her, isn’t she? Well, I do, but I don’t want her to know. It’s weird. I want to keep my feelings for her secret. I don’t even want Pikachu to know.
"Yeah?" she said, holding up her half of the ribbon.
I couldn’t believe it. She had her half with her, too! I saw something in her eyes. She missed me, but was it more than that? I know I missed her. Not just her being here. Everything about her. Her jokes, her poise, that cute way she drools over Takeshi’s cooking, just like I do. I missed her beauty. Not simply physical beauty, but the beauty of her person. I had witnessed very few moments of true beauty in my career as a trainer, but Haruka was a constant fountain of that beauty. I wanted her with me. I wanted to reach through the phone and pull her to Shinou with me. We can kick Hikari and Takeshi to the wayside, just me and her. Just like we were when we met in Hoenn. I often found myself remembering those days fondly, now. Did she feel the same?
“Haruka,” I spoke to her, my eyes staring deeply into her sapphire beauties, “Do you remember when we met, back in Houen?”
She nodded to me, a slightly confused look on her face.
“I… I wanted to tell you that I thought you were pretty,” I let the words just pour from my mind. And now I had to try to cover that up. “I mean, that’s not just it. I watched you grow up. I mean, not like your father did.” This was becoming increasingly frustrating. Why couldn’t I come up with the right words? I can’t find the words to say what I want to Haruka! “What I mean is, when we met, you were so inexperienced, and I trained you. But you started training me, too.” Damn! Why can’t I get it right? “No, I’m getting distracted! Why can’t I get it out?”
"Get what out?" she smiled dumbly. Had she not picked up on what I was saying?
I felt the color drain from my face. I had to do something. Pikachu wanted to know what was wrong with me. I have to ask her. I just have to know. "I-Um-Haruka..." I gulped. I didn’t want to know the answer. "I-is there someone you... like?"
"Yeah. Why?" she answered plainly.
And that’s it. That sealed it. She was in love with Shuu. I felt like I just wanted to shrink up and disappear. I knew she was in love with Shuu. Why did I put myself through this? “…Oh…” I lowered the ribbon. “T-that’s fine. There’s a girl I like, too.” I just stared at the ribbon.
It was her that I liked. No. It was her that I loved. I couldn’t be without her any longer. It was getting harder to sleep, and sometimes I felt like I wasn’t hungry. Definably not the kind of things people thought I normally did.
I have to tell her. Even if she’s in love with Shuu. I fought back tears. I’m not gonna cry in front of her. I’m not gonna show her my broken heart. I’m just going to tell her how I feel.
"Haruka, I-, I was just-" Damnation. I can’t get any words right. I wanted to tell her, ‘I love you, Haruka. You make me feel strong. Like I can win any battle. You are the prize I want after a victory. You mean more than all of the badges and championships in the world.’
“Satoshi,” she saved me from making a fool of myself. "I just want you to know that, you're not alone. Our ribbon can be our connection, Satoshi. No matter how far apart we are, all I have to do is look at my half of the ribbon and I know that you're rooting for me. I hope you know that I'm still rooting for you, in everything that you do."
She looked away.
"Satoshi," she whispered to me, "promise that I can always come back."
Haruka… likes me?
She must. Otherwise she’d never had said something like that.
We have a connection. Our ribbon.
I felt myself truly smile for the first time since I saw her on the phone, this evening. I didn’t know how to respond. "T-Thanks. Thank you very much, Haruka," I told her. I could feel my mouth widening into that self-confident grin. I could tell she loved it. "Of course you can always come back. I'd love to travel with you again!" Oops. What I wanted to say was, ‘I’d like it if you traveled with us again. I love you, Haruka.’ Somehow, those got jumbled together.
Yet, somehow, I thought I heard a faint "I love you too Satoshi." Did she say that? No, I must be imaging things. Must be my mind in overdrive. How could we meet up again?
"If you want to come to Shinou, I’m sure we can meet up somewhere,” I tried to work out the plan verbally. “I’m sure Takeshi would-”
“Satoshi,” she interrupted. “No, I’m staying in Jouto. I’m going to get better and beat my rivals. I’m not going to run away from this challenge. That goes against everything you’ve taught me.”
Why did I have to be such a positive role model? I wanted Haruka to come to Shinou with me! “I understand, Haruka,” I sighed. I knew she was right. “J-Just keep that ribbon with you, and know that I’m always cheering for you. I know you’ll do great things. Don’t let Shuu, Harley or Saori rattle you. You’re a great coordinator.” Just give her that Satoshi confidence boost that you’re so famous for. She needs it. Just as much as you need her, I told myself.
“Thanks, Satoshi,” she smiled. That look of happiness on her face was almost worth not traveling with her. The light returned to her beautiful sapphire eyes. I had to look away. Her radiance was almost blinding.
“Haruka…” I started up. I just had to tell her. Even if she didn’t really feel the same. Even if that whisper I heard was my own madness. She had to know. From me. “Haruka, I-”
“I know, Satoshi,” she caught me. “And I feel the same.”
To say I was stunned would be an understatement. Pikachu checked me to see if I still had a pulse.
Haruka feels the same about me? She loves me? Not Shuu? I had to make sure. “R-r-r-really?
Yes, yes yes yes yes.
That’s all I need.
A loud growl came from both of our stomachs.
Well, that’s all I need apart from food, apparently.
“Ehe, I haven’t eaten yet, tonight,” I gave her my patented grin. She likes it when I do that. I can tell.
“Neither have I,” she mimicked me. She looked so cute while she did it, too.
“I guess we need to go get something to eat, huh?” I muttered. I didn’t want to stop talking to Haru-chan. Haru-chan, huh? I guess that was gonna be a pet name for her now. I wonder how she’ll react to me calling her that.
“Well, I’ll be at the center until tomorrow if you want to call me back,” she smiled at my in her own, cute way. That way that told you that you had all of her attention. The smile that made you the center of the universe.
“Great! After I eat, I’ll be back here to talk to you!” This was perfect. I’ll eat as fast as I can, then catch up with Haruka! “I guess I’ll talk to you later, Haru-chan,” I let it slip.
She blushed at the name I called her. “O-okay, Sato-chan.” I blushed when she said that. Turnabout is fair play, I guess.
I hung up.
“Yeah!” I leapt from my chair, feeling victorious, holding the ribbon in the air. “This is great!”
“Satoshi,” Takeshi winced nearby, nursing his red ear, “what was that about?”
“Oh,” Hikari’s gaze narrowed at me, “he’s just glad that he got to talk to his girlfriend.”
I smiled and stepped passed Hikari and Takeshi, saying nothing.
Haruka misses me, loves me, and wants to talk to me. That’s way more important than listening to Hikari rant and rave. We shared a ribbon from that battle. Our passions both were poured out, then, into it. As long as we had it, we’ll always be together.
I never felt happier than I did then. And I wasn’t about to let anyone mess it up for me. Not Hikari, not Takeshi, not Kasumi, not Shigeru, and not Shinji.
Not even Shuu.
The other side will be up on Saturday.