~~~ *** ~~~
Scuttling sideways, a small, red Krabby stopped in the sand and clicked its hands twice.
His small eyes followed a brownish form that was stumbling across the sand. It was coming into his territory. He moved toward it.
The four-legged, fox-like creature stopped when Krabby stepped in front of it. The former’s expression changed, as if he knew something was wrong.
The Krabby snapped his pincers again. The brown creature backed off.
“<H-hey, wait a second…>” he muttered in Pokémon speech.
The Krabby’s mouth – or at least the place where the mouth should have been – frothed over with bubbles. The Eevee whimpered.
“<Problem?>” Krabby stopped his advance and turned his eyes. Not far from where they were standing – and closing – was a similar creature. This one had bright orange fur, however, and very big black eyes. “<Yeah, you, with the stupid look on your face, messing with my little brother.>”
Krabby turned toward this new arrival, his mouth frothing.
“<Oh, please,>” the orange creature said disdainfully, tossing her cream-colored ‘hair’ out of her eyes and crouching down, pawing the ground like a Tauros ready to charge. “<Try it – I dare you. I swear you’ll end up on somebody’s dinner menu.>”
The Krabby strafed toward her, one of his pincers open. He tried striking with it but his would-be victim was too quick. He turned around and his eyes went wide. A large, flaming…something or other…was coming straight at him.
The ‘little brother’ winced visibly as Krabby disappeared in an explosion and twisting column of fire. A grin crossed his vulpine face but disappeared quickly when his sister rounded on him.
“<Prince, what – are – you – doing?>” she uttered.
He looked down at the sand in shame.
“<Next time, don’t make me have to do it for you,>” she said. “<If he tries to bully you, kick his ***.>”
“<Easy for you to say,>” he replied. “<You can breathe fire and all that stuff. Plus, you’re a lot older…>”
“<Get it together!>” she shouted back at him, cutting him off. “<One day, you’re going to have your own Trainer to protect. What if something happens to her because you’re busy making excuses?>”
Almost as if on cue, a young man came running over the hill, his blue ponytail flying out behind him.
“What the heck was that?” he asked. “Hester, did you use Fire Blast again?”
The Flareon looked the young man over. He was very lightly clothed, with only swimming trunks and grit-covered sandals. He had no shirt, his muscular chest out in the open for all to see. He was wearing dark sunshades. It was bright out here on this summer day, but he was probably trying to hide his identity, she thought. Of course, it did no good against her; she’d been living with him her entire life, four-and-a-half years plus, so she knew his eyes, like his hair, were a deep dark blue.
“<Well, yeah…>” she tried to explain herself. She never got rolling – the young man slapped his hand over his face.
“Just because I finally decided to teach you Fire Blast doesn’t mean that you have to blow up everything that walks, Hester,” he groaned.
“<Yeah, but…he was bullying Prince…>” she said, swishing her tail, tilting her head, and overall trying to be as charming as possible. Events in her parents’ lives had forced them to grow up very fast; she, on the other hand, had been born and raised in the Emerald Village in Hoenn, so it was safe to say that she was not quite as mature.
The young man’s mouth turned to a frown.
“Why’d you run away like that?” a little girl came over the hill. The Eevee that had been quietly watching bounded over to her.
“Kylie!” a young woman followed very quickly. She had cherry-blossom pink hair – at least in most places. Her highlights were a shade of hot pink that most people weren’t sure occurred in nature. “Don’t go off on your – oh.”
She looked at the little girl, then back at him.
He looked back at her, and then at the little girl.
The three humans laughed while the Flareon and Eevee looked at each other, confused.
The little girl bounced ahead in her Wooper-print swimsuit (she liked that one, so her mom didn’t ask any questions), Prince right at her heels. Hester, meanwhile, walked proudly in front of the young couple, as if daring anything in the area to come within line of sight with intentions any less than friendly.
“Kylie’s growing up so fast,” the young woman commented. “Doesn’t she start school this fall?”
“Yeah…” the young man mused. “I feel like I’m missing so much of her life.”
“Sure, you’re gone most of the time…” she answered as they continued walking. “But she’ll remember days like this and remember you were there for her.”
“I sure hope so, Katrina…” he sighed. A brief smile crossed his face as he glanced at her.
After nearly four full years of a steady relationship, Travis had somehow thought that the big wedding day – two years in the making – would go, if not perfect, then without him losing his mind or his lunch. But when the day came, he had been nervous as nervous could get. He wondered the night before if he would wake up in the middle of the night one day, look at his wife, and then be used to how beautiful she was.
After nearly two years of marriage, not only had that not happened, but she seemed more beautiful to him with every passing day. And it wasn’t just her looks. She was gorgeous by his or anybody else’s standards, but she handled their fame with grace and a smile, which made it easier to do the same on those days where he was just not feeling it.
“You’re staring at me,” she said after a while, drifting down a small incline and away from him. His expression changed to one of puzzlement. Seemed like a strange thing to remark on after nearly two years of being husband and wife. Then her expression switched to one of urgency. “Pole!”
Travis looked straight ahead and, with a jolt of his heart, put a hand up and swung around a light pole. He looked back at it, grimacing. That easily could have been his head.
“Couldn’t you have just said, ‘There’s a light fixture straight ahead, don’t smash your face on it’?” he asked. She laughed.
“Too much effort.”
Travis smirked. He jogged down the embankment. They passed some trees as they started to round a corner.
The beach was crowded today. It was warmer than usual for a day in early June, which had brought all of the surfers and surfer wannabes out of hiding in earnest for perhaps the first time that summer. Kylie was still several steps ahead of them, spinning as Prince circled her ankles.
Travis swallowed hard and let out a sigh as a lot of memories hit him at once.
“You okay?” Katrina asked him.
“Yeah, it’s just…” he trailed off.
“We had our first serious battles on this beach,” Katrina said. Travis nodded.
They kept walking, past some sparse foliage. Travis stopped, turned, and looked at one of the bushes.
“Now what?” Katrina asked, a hint of impatience in her voice.
Travis tried to choose his words carefully so that Katrina wouldn’t think her husband had finally lost it. “You ever…get somewhere and it feels like you’ve, you know…been there before?”
Katrina let out a sigh. “We’ve been coming here at the same time every year for the last three years. Then, obviously, we were all here when we were twelve. Of course we’ve been here before.”
“No, I mean here, right now, in this specific moment. Kylie running ahead of us down the beach, you with those highlights in your hair…I swear I’ve seen it before. It’s weird,” he said quickly.
Katrina stopped for a moment. “Well…stranger things have happened.”
“Hey, guys, over here!!” a young man’s voice got their attention. They both looked up in tandem. A very tall youth with red hair so bright it could be seen from a mile away was standing at a distance, waving two arms that seemed to go on forever.
The young couple accelerated to a jog and drew closer to the shirtless young man. Travis tried hard not to wince in pain as he approached close enough to notice that the young man had his ears gauged. They weren’t huge, but still…were earlobes designed to stretch like that?
“Look who wasn’t late this time,” he said, looking very smug.
“Shut up, Shiro,” Travis replied, rolling his eyes. At five-eleven with a sturdy build, he still felt a head short next to his best boyhood friend, who now towered well over six feet. He followed the tall redhead to their spot. Travis’ heart sank all of a sudden. Where was –
He breathed a sigh of relief as his eyes found his little sister, a slight distance away, talking with another little girl – a blonde girl who appeared to be a year or two older than her.
“<Hey, is that – >” Hester’s eyes were firmly set on a yellow shape that was drifting near the blonde girl’s legs. A lightning-bolt tail revealed itself, and the Flareon took off after it. Another girl in her very late teens jumped to her feet in front of him. She was a brunette, with honey-blonde streaks in her hair. She leapt up to Katrina enthusiastically and gave her a hug. Travis followed soon after.
“How are you?” he asked.
“A lot better, now that everyone’s here,” she said.
Travis looked up. “Everyone’s not here,” he said with a frown. “Where are Nate and Avril?”
“Bad news – I talked to them a couple of days ago and they said they couldn’t make it. On tour and such,” Shiro sighed, popping back into the conversation. “The good news is their show’s here in Cherrygrove and they sorta gave us free tickets, so…”
Shiro was grinning.
Nate and Avril had made good on their word. As soon as they were both old enough, they left New Bark Town to move in with Tai Terrence in Cherrygrove City. It took a couple of months for everyone else to figure out that they were starting a band, and the rest was history. Travis and Katrina had already gone to see them a couple of times. Travis tried to convince them to tour through Hoenn and they promised to do it…at some point.
“They always save their best shows for the hometown crowd, too,” Shiro commented.
“Gotcha,” Travis said. “And Matt and Mariah…”
“…are getting ready for their wedding.” Madeline finished, a bit of a push on the last word as she took a glance at Shiro.
“Uh…I’m gonna go catch some waves,” Shiro said, sounding nervous. “You should come out. Water’s great.”
And he took off.
Travis and Katrina both sat down under the parasol, near Madeline, who watched Shiro run off. “So…how’s little Anhje doing?” she asked.
Travis smirked. “She’d probably slap you if she heard you say that. She got into the advance program, so she’s starting fifth year this fall.”
“I know, I know…” Madeline sighed. “It’s just really hard not to think of her as a five-year-old. Speaking of school…”
She looked at the two little girls, who were sitting down in the sand and trying to build a sand castle. “Yeah, Kylie starts this fall,” Travis said. “She’s going to have such a headstart on the other kids, it almost isn’t fair. She goes through all of Mom’s books all the time.”
“Well, it runs in the family,” Katrina replied. Travis sighed and glanced at his sister again.
“Guess you’re right,” he admitted. “So how’s that Orange League gig going for Matt?”
Madeline smiled. “Not bad…I kind of wonder about the timing for the wedding, though. He usually gets a challenger or two at the end of July, and the wedding’s about a month away…”
“And you? How are you?” Travis asked. Madeline’s smile went away. Travis’ heart sank. Uh-oh, he thought.
“Shiro and I are…” she started.
“Hey, Madeline!!” as if on cue, Shiro came running back to them. She looked up slowly. “Why the long face?”
“Just…thinking about Mom, that’s all,” she said. It was a lie, Travis knew, but a very good one. Although Madeline had spent the last several years of her life happy with Otto, Mandi, Matt, and Veronica, her birth mother, Taylor, was still on her mind. The previous year, Madeline had come back a day early to visit her mother, only to find that she had been committed to a mental institution. It was not horribly shocking, but the lack of shock made it no less painful.
“Oh…well, I hope I can cheer you up,” Shiro said quickly. Madeline frowned.
“You’re not even wet,” she said. “Where did –”
“I’m sorry,” he groaned, unclasping his hands and kneeling in front of her. “I didn’t want to ruin the surprise. I had a question for you.”
Madeline looked at Travis for a moment, and the two had a conversation about it with their eyes: “Know anything about this?” “No idea.”
All questions were answered, however, when Shiro came right up to Madeline and opened the tiny box in her face, revealing what was unmistakably an engagement ring.
Madeline’s expression was priceless – it looked like someone had hit her over the head with a shovel.
“I was sorta wondering if you’d be my wife,” he said, in typical Shiro fashion. Travis and Katrina looked at each other, shock and delight visible on their faces.
She looked down. Her fists were shaking.
“What…the –” Fortunately, she muttered all of her words, including this one, as there were children nearby – “…took you so long?”
“So…is that a yes?” he asked. Madeline replied by almost tackling him.
Shiro and Madeline broke their embrace, kissed, and then Shiro called over to the two little girls. “Hey, Veronica!”
The little blonde girl ran over. She saw the ring and her turquoise eyes lit up.
“Did you ask her?” she asked breathlessly.
“Sure did,” Shiro replied, grinning.
The nine-year-old threw her hands up into the air with an exasperated look on her face. “FINALLY!” she shouted.
Travis and Katrina laughed.
Madeline was glowing, smiling a smile that her face could barely contain. Her emerald eyes met Travis’ for a moment right as Shiro hoisted her up into the air and started to spin her around. In that slow-motion moment, he suddenly remembered.
Travis DePaul had dreamt a dream –
A dream where everything ended up…more or less…just fine.
F I N
At Madeline’s insistence, she and Shiro were married that fall. Veronica for the second time at a sibling’s wedding that year, would serve happily as the flower girl. When Madeline finally had children, they were – no one’s surprise – twins. She became a celebrated writer of both prose and poetry. Shiro continued on with his skating career. He still calls Pummelo his home, and wants to build a skatepark there for the locals to use.
As Orange League Champion, Matt’s relationship with the fans was a strange one. Even as he aged into young adulthood, he never did shake the ‘bad boy’ image that he had been inexplicably tagged with at the beginning of his career. Eventually he just decided to run with it. He and Mariah were married in the summer of 2018. Recently he has been sending out challenge letters to Champions from other countries, challenging them to matches. He and Brad want Trainers from the Orange Island to receive respect from the other nations.
Anhje and Sander were able to restart their lives in New Bark Town. Sander got a job as a construction worker, thanks to Travis’ father. Anhje went to the Academy and grew up a mostly happy girl, but was well into her teens before her father began seeing other women. The loss of a mother is an enormous hole to fill, but she had good role models and mentors in Katrina and Amy. As a result of that (along with her experiences in prison), she grows up to approach life with much less fear than most people. She tours Johto with the second-oldest of Angel’s and Crescent’s several children.
Kylie finished school four years behind Anhje, at the top of her class. Prince became her first Pokémon as she grew into a respectably skilled Trainer, but she seemed to prefer healing Pokémon’s wounds to causing them in battle.
Nate and Avril took an alarmingly long time to marry compared to their friends, but they had a good excuse; they’re planning on settling down and starting a family once the band slows down. Given their success, though, that might not be happening soon.
Travis always promised himself that he would never overstay his welcome as Champion. At the very least, he knows his plans after his days as Hoenn’s Champion are done. For now, he and Katrina look to the future with hope, and remember on occasion the past – for scars that do not disappear, but simply cease to hurt, are more than often war wounds worthy of a story. Despite that, they keep both feet firmly rooted in the present.
And so ends Pokémon Revolution: Advent Phoenix. Without boring you with names and long litanies (since I did that before the door-stopper that was last chapter), I’ll just say that I’m grateful for all of you who read. If you read from beginning to end (even if you’re reading this on the Completed Fics section right now), then give yourself a pat on the back for your patience and dedication – Air Dragon estimates that this fic is somewhere around 1800-1900 pages total. In novel form, it could possibly be large enough to stop a runaway piano, so good job. It’s been a great ride these last three and a half years, and I’m excited to find out who’s going to meet me at the start of the next one. If you do, though, fasten your seatbelt, because we’re going into uncharted territory together. New characters, new continent, and a completely new premise.
If you want to leave any final comments on this thread, do it quickly because it’s going into the Completed Fics section soon.
I’ll see you guys at Maverick Heart.