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Thread: My Reasons (One-shot)

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    Default My Reasons (One-shot)

    Author's Notes: List of quickies. First, this was written for the LJ community Pokeprompts. Prompt was "(no) regrets." Verse here is anime-verse, under the assumption that the Team Rocket plotline that happened in the games happened when Ash wasn't around. Last thing to note is that the lyrics contained in this fic are from the song Servant of Evil by mothy. Please don't give it a listen before reading the fic if you're unfamiliar with it and would like the full effect. Thanks and enjoy!



    He is eighteen, and she is seventeen. And he stands alone at the top of a tower surrounded by men in black suits. He is well aware of how he got there, and as far as he's concerned, if he had the choice of whether or not to repeat all the steps he took that led him to that room, he would not only do it but also do it with a smile. There is a reason why he's standing there – a good one. It plays in his mind over and over again as he stares at the only figure in that room who scares him.

    The red-head reaches out for him, palm up and a grin across her face. She introduces herself as Ariana. Yet, despite her allegiance, he observes that her expression isn't particularly wicked. There is no malice in her grin, no twist in the corners of her mouth, not even a glint in her eyes that would betray anything else but straightforward professionalism. She simply looks at him as if he's an old friend.

    "Bill," she says, "I'm sorry my leader isn't available to receive you personally. This is quite a surprise to be honest, and on behalf of our organization, I thank you for coming. Now, shall we get down to business?"

    He says nothing. At that point, his arms begin to ache. The men holding his wrists behind his back are squeezing his limbs just a little too hard.

    "We've watched you for a very long time. Your work is most impressive," Ariana tells him. "For that, I would like to invite you to join us. I have the means to make it worthwhile for you. Pokémon? Funding? Security for your family, perhaps? Anything you could ever dream of can be yours. Just name it."

    As soon as she finishes, he begins to smile.

    A long time ago, in a certain place
    Evil people lived in a kingdom
    And there, ruling over all at the throne
    Was my very cute sibling

    In one of their earliest memories, he is five, and she is four. They stand hand-in-hand on a beach, their small, bare feet buried in white sand as the cold water washes around their ankles. Years later, neither of them would be able to remember where their parents are that day; it's more than likely that he took her to the beach on his own. Back then, he took care of her, mostly. What else would he do? Their mother worked hard in an office until each evening, and their father…

    He doesn't like to talk about that part.

    In his other hand, he holds a bottle, and in this bottle is a scrap of paper. She holds nothing at all besides him.

    They look nothing alike, and in terms of personality, they are night and day. The brother is smart, they say. Already, he's showing a lot of potential. That's what the teacher told their mother one day. He's learning at a far more rapid pace than any other child who went to that school, and wouldn't she and her husband like to discuss the possibility of placing him in a higher grade?

    He squeezes her hand, and his sister squeezes back. They stand for a long time until she finally says something.

    "What's that?"

    With a sharp turn of his head, he casts her a glance as if he was surprised that she could speak. He blinks once and then holds up the bottle to look through its clear glass sides at the scrap of paper resting within it. All the while, his head feels light, like he's just awoken from a very long sleep.

    "It's a wishing bottle," he tells her.

    She tilts her head. "What's that?"

    "Didn't Mama tell you the story?"

    His sister shrugs. "Yeah… but I like it when you tell it."

    After a few seconds, he smiles at her. "Well, you know, they say there's spirits in the water. Good ones, not the scary kind that are in the woods. And if you write a wish on a piece of paper and put it in a bottle, you can send it to the spirits by putting it in the ocean. If it doesn't come back, that means one of them got it, and that wish is going to come true."

    She nods. "So what are you gonna wish for?"

    "I can't tell you. Then it won't come true."

    He punctuates this by stepping forward and throwing the bottle into the ocean. It lands a few feet out to sea with a splash, and the waves whisk it further and further away from the shore. All the while, the siblings stretch their arms but never let go of each other's hand.

    Eventually, the bottle can't be seen from the shore. When that happens, the brother steps back to stand beside his sister.

    "Can you tell me now?" the sister asks.

    "No," he replies.

    They watch the waves for a long time. Inside, they both know they should be getting back because their mother is surely going to worry about them. But they stand, feeling each other's warmth through their fingers.

    Eventually, he inquires, "If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?"

    At first, she doesn't respond. He waits patiently, knowing all too well that it's a big question for someone to answer, especially his sister. There's a lot of things an ordinary little girl could want, and knowing her, he thinks it might have something to do with fairies. She always liked the stories about Ilex Forest and the things that supposedly lived in it.

    Eventually, she squeezes his hand again and opens her mouth. He looks at her, giving her all the attention she deserves.

    "I'm hungry," she replies.

    He pauses for a second. Then, he laughs. She stares at him with curiosity as he covers his mouth. He doesn't know why he's laughing. He simply is, and it feels good.

    Once he calms down, he tugs at her hand and turns to lead her away from the water.

    "Okay. Let's go get something to eat. I think I've still got some change left."

    "Can we have ice cream?" she says.

    "Faith," he tells her, "you can have anything you want."

    With that, she takes a quick step to catch up with him, and when she does, she leans against his side, bumping into him with each step that carries them away from the beach. He takes pleasure in feeling her warmth, feeling that close to another person. There's something on his mind, but he doesn't let her know that he's at all troubled.

    In the next month, he begins his first year of school. She doesn't.

    It's the last time they get to be together.

    We were born under high expectations
    The bells of the church blessed us
    But for selfish adults' reasons
    Our future was ripped in two

    He is nine, and she is eight. By then, the entire city knows about him – probably the entire region. They say he's a genius, but she doesn't know what that word means. All she knows is that her brother is her brother; why would he be anything else?

    But lately, he hasn't been playing with her as often as he used to. They don't go to the beach anymore. He spends his time cooped up in his room with books all around him. She knows her brother; she knows he could read through all of those books in less than an hour and fill in all the blanks on each sheet the adults give him in no time at all. After all, she may not know what the word "genius" means, but she knows her brother is smart, probably the smartest brother ever. Besides, she's seen him do it before, not too long ago when he was six.

    He started slowing down when he was seven. By the time he turned nine, it would take him hours to complete each task set by the teachers or the doctors or whoever else was interested in him. It's not that he couldn't do them or found them too hard. If anything, he found them too easy. It's just that he never wanted to do them. She doesn't know why.

    Nowadays, there are times when he sneaks away from the piles of work for brief moments to play with her. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, his world becomes centered around her for those precious minutes. Sometimes, they climb out the window and onto the roof, and there, they talk and point out shapes in the clouds or they climb down the gutters and run away into the city.

    It's Saturday, and she's bored. Snow fell that morning, coating all of Goldenrod City in a thin layer of white. She wants to go to the park and make snow angels, and she knows the perfect companion for that.

    So, she opens his door and finds him staring out the window. A pile of books sit on his desk, and there's a mess of papers, many of which are crumpled or ripped, on the floor. She tiptoes through the room, but when the papers rustle under her feet, he finally snaps out of his daydreams and looks at her. His eyes are wide, and there's dark shadows beneath each socket. She doesn't think much of that until later on in life.

    At that point, she smiles and holds out a hand, palm-up.

    "Wanna go to the park?" she asks.

    He smiles back. "Sorry, Faith. Wish I could, but I gotta finish up."

    She huffs and puts her hands on her hips. "Doesn't look like you're studying."

    "Hey! I am too! I'm just taking a break!" His voice is indignant, but the grin isn't fading.

    Her cheeks puff out as she glares at him. "You're lying."

    For a few seconds, he looks at her, at her expanded cheeks, her shrunken mouth, and her narrow eyes. Then, without warning, he bursts into laughter. Her expression softens as she stands quietly, but just as quickly as the look on her face changed, it shifted back to an annoyed glare.

    "What?" she snaps.

    He hides his mouth behind a hand. "You look like an angry jigglypuff!"

    "Hey!"

    "Aww!" He stands and quickly makes his way to her side, stepping on his schoolwork along the way. His arms wrap around her in a tight hug. "Don't take it so badly. I'm just saying you're my cute baby sister."

    "I'm not a baby," she pouts. "And you look like a gross raticate."

    "You don't mean that."

    "I do too!"

    "Well!" He pulls away from her. Turning towards the window, he clasps his hands behind his back. "I guess you don't want to go out that badly, then. I was gonna say it'll only take me a couple of minutes, and then we could go to the park and make snowmen. But if you really think I look like a ratic--"

    His words are cut off with a resounding "oomph" as his sister crashes into him. The only thing that keeps the two of them from toppling over is a few quick steps. Her arms circle him tightly as she presses her cheek into his chest.

    "You're the best big brother ever, and I'm sorry I called you a raticate!" she yells.

    One of his hands rests on the top of her head. "Okay! Okay! Lemme go so I can finish up, and then we'll go to the park. Sound good?"

    She nods, rubbing her cheek into his shirt. It takes a moment on his part to finally pry her off.

    "And I meant it when I said you were cute," he tells her.

    "Were?" she responds slyly.

    "Don't push it, kiddo. I could just change my mind about the park."

    She takes a step back and holds up a finger. "Okay, but can we go in an hour?"

    He grins. "Okay. One hour. That should be enough time for me."

    At that, she cheers and whirls around to dart out of the room. He stands for a second, watching her go with a smile on his face. Then, his grin wavers a little as he turns back to the desk and walks slowly to its side. His hands pick up the first book on the top of the stack, and as if someone else is controlling his actions, he opens it and stares at the pictures inside without absorbing any of its information. Photos of bulbasaur, charmander, and countless other pokémon litter its pages, and the words beside each picture detail everything a beginning trainer would need to know about them.

    He doesn't have the heart to tell her that the following month, he would be leaving for his pokémon journey. She wouldn't be going with him.

    When I visited the neighboring country
    I happened to see a green girl walking in the city
    With her kind voice and a smile on her face
    I fell in love at first sight

    He is fifteen, she is fourteen, and everyone most definitely knows about them. To be more accurate, everyone knows about him more than her. Ever since he graduated college and moved to a remote part of Kanto, she heard all kinds of rumors about him. People say he knows everything there is to know about pokémon. Some say he locks himself in his cottage and performs twisted experiments on pokémon and himself. Others say he steals the research of far more experienced scientists. Still others have constructed a thousand different theories as to what goes on behind the closed doors of the house in the furthest corner of civilization – theories that have nothing to do with his work.

    Sometimes, she feels a sense of pleasure in knowing her brother more than them. She knows that he isn't the type of person who would do the things that the rumors say he does.

    But it's also been three months since she last spoke to him, and before that, there was a period of six months between that phone conversation and the one before it.

    Not long before her fourteenth birthday, he calls her. It's not just a phone conversation this time, either. It's a complete invitation. She accepts without hesitation.

    When he meets her, it's at the pier at Vermilion City. His smile is wide as he steps off the boat and walks briskly to where she's standing beside her charizard. The dragon grunts and steps aside as he quickly approaches her and wraps his arms around her.

    "It's good to see you!" he exclaims. "How's your journey going?"

    She returns his hug and breathes in deep. "Good. I'm almost ready to take on the Silver Conference."

    "Again?" He pulls away and looks at her blankly.

    "Third time's a charm, they say."

    "No, I meant I didn't realize you were on the Johto circuit."

    "Pfft." She smirks. "It's not like you could've found out. You don't call or anything, you know."

    There's a split second where he looks a little hurt before his expression turns into a sheepish grin. The change happens quickly, but even then, she catches it. Narrowing her eyes, she lifts a hand and taps the back of it against his forehead.

    "Hey, don't look at me like that," she drawls. "I know you're busy. Rumor has it you're kinda important now."

    He chuckles nervously. "Well, I guess you could say that." Shaking his head, he quickly adds, "But enough about me! It's your birthday, isn't it?"

    Instantly, her eyes glitter. "And where are you going with that?"

    With a wink, he reaches into a pocket and pulls out a small box wrapped in a yellow ribbon. He grabs her wrist and gently pulls it up until her hand unfolds palm up in front of him. In its center, he places the box and closes her fingers around it.

    "You'll like this. Open it," he informs her.

    She raises an eyebrow as she pulls the ribbon off the box and slides off the lid. Inside, a computer chip sits, glinting in the noon sun. Looking up, she gazes at her brother with a strange glance.

    "Um… thanks?" she mutters.

    "Don't be fooled by its simplicity," he advises. "It's a pokédex upgrade. Not only does it include the latest entries from Unova, but it also allows your pokédex to perform faster. Let me install it later on today, and you'll see."

    "You made this yourself, didn't you?"

    "Naturally."

    She gives him another smirk. "Show off."

    "Can you blame me?" he replies with a laugh. "You always give me the opportunity to test out my latest work. If that functions for you exactly as I intended, it'll be on the market within a year."

    In response, she closes the box and shoves it into her shoulder bag. "Humph. Well, nice to know I'm your personal guinea pig."

    "H-hey now," he stammers. "I didn't mean it like that!"

    "I'm teasing you," she assures him. Then, she pauses as her fingers brush against another object in her bag. "Anyway, I'm glad you can spend some time with me. There's something I need to talk to you about."

    He looks away, towards the ship again. Someone is calling his name.

    "Oh, hold on," he says. He lifts an arm in a wave as he raises his voice just enough to be heard by the newcomer. "Hey! Over here!"

    She follows his gaze and catches sight of a woman running towards them. The stranger's own arm is raised in a wave as a bright smile spreads across her thin face. With each step, the wind catches strands of her long hair and the hem of her green dress until she comes to a halt beside them. When she does, he gazes at her with a bright expression of his own.

    At first, his sister frowns and clutches the strap of her purse a little tighter. She isn't sure what to make of this woman or the fact that she stole her brother's attention away from her.

    But then, the woman turns her soft glance towards the sister, and suddenly, the latter feels her grip on the strap loosen.

    "I nearly forgot!" her brother exclaims. "I hope you don't mind, but we'll be having some company for lunch today. I'd like for you to meet a friend of mine."

    His sister looks away and mutters a hello. Inside, her heart pounds.

    For the remainder of the day, she tries her best not to say much to the other woman. In her mind, the list of things she wants to tell her brother go untouched, replaced by mantras she uses to keep her expression when she looks at the other woman as indifferent as possible. Somehow, she manages to push through the day without incident of any sort, and with quick goodbyes, she leaves on the back of her charizard.

    Only then does the blush begin to form.

    Half a year later, her brother won't be with the woman. He won't tell his sister; he never wanted to upset her.

    Before long the angry townspeople
    Will probably overthrow us
    Even if we so rightly deserve this,
    Despite that, I will defy them

    He is eighteen, and she is seventeen. His sibling is safe, asleep in his bed at home. For the past three days, a darkness has shrouded their city at night. No one can come and go anymore. All the lights are turned off as soon as the sun sets, and all the curtains are drawn. Men in black suits crowd the streets, and like monsters swallowing witless travelers whole, their hands grab every hapless person who wanders into the open alone.

    Their father has been missing for two days. They've tried to talk to their mother about it, but she has locked herself in her room. He has a feeling she knows something.

    Right now, though, a pair of men lead him up the stairs of the radio tower. Not a word is spoken between them from the time they lead him away from his home up to that point, and he goes out of his way to avoid expressing anything at all towards them. Their grips are a little too tight and twist his skin into a painful stretch, but he doesn't react at all. Instead, he closes his eyes and lets them lead him on their journey. He wonders what his sibling must be dreaming about. Is she happy? Is she having a nightmare? She may not know it – because they've spent far too long apart – but he frequently wonders about these two questions. The possibilities worry him more than he has ever admitted to her.

    Part of him wishes that he had.

    When his captors open the door, the thought rushes from his mind. He opens his eyes to find himself in a large office just barely furnished. In the middle is a desk, and on it sits a woman with bright, red hair. Her red eyes glimmer as she stares at him and smiles.

    "Good evening, Bill," she says. "My name is Ariana, and on behalf of Team Rocket, I'd like to welcome you back to our city."

    "Here, I will lend you my clothes
    Wear this and escape immediately
    It'll be all right -- we're twins
    No one will notice"

    He is eighteen, she is seventeen, and he has no idea that not too long from now, men will be leading him away from the house. In the darkness of the dining room, he sits alone, hands folded and eyes on the candle sitting in the middle of the table. Its light dances across his face, highlighting the shadows and the creases from a lack of sleep. He jumps at the sound of the kettle whistling, and shortly afterwards, he puts a hand on his head as he listens to his sister make them tea.

    Soon, she appears across the table, as if by magic, with two cups balanced on two saucers. She places one set in front of her brother and sits down across from him. He mutters a thanks and brings the cup to his lips. His breath gently blows across the surface, pushing the steam away from his face and sending small waves towards the rim opposite of him. Meanwhile, she simply watches, her hands wrapped around the warm ceramic as her eyes steady on her brother's face.

    "Are you okay?" she asks.

    He shrugs and forces a smile. "Nothing to worry about. I just have a lot on my mind."

    She looks towards the curtains and then back at him. It takes a moment for the gesture to register in his head.

    "No, not that," he says. Then, after a pause, he adds, "Well, a little."

    "Are you scared?"

    He eyes her carefully. "No. They don't know I'm here, do they?"

    "Not yet, no."

    There's a beat of silence as he takes a sip. If he was more alert, he would have detected a strange bitter taste, but he's not.

    "I want to apologize to you," he says.

    She raises her eyebrows. "For what?"

    Placing his cup on the saucer in front of him, he takes a deep breath and closes his eyes. "I know I've been busy lately, and it's not fair to you."

    "You're doing a lot, Bill. You can't be too hard on yourself, you know. Anyway, you like your job, don't you?"

    He shakes his head. "I do, but… you said something to me a few years ago. Do you remember? On your fourteenth birthday? You said I never call."

    "Oh." She lifts her cup and shifts her eyes to the side. "That. Look, I didn't mean it, okay?"

    "No, you did," he replies. "It's okay, though. You're right. I don't contact you as much as I should; I don't contact anyone in the family. Sometimes, I feel terrible about that. I care deeply about all of you, you know." He pauses, opens his eyes, rests his cheek on a hand. "I love being a pokémon researcher. I don't think there's anything else I would enjoy doing more than what I do now. And I love pokémon. But you're my family. I shouldn't ignore you."

    "You know, it's really weird to hear you say you feel guilty over something. Usually, you're pretty shameless," she comments with a grin.

    He narrows his eyes at her. "That's not funny."

    Lowering her cup, she gives him a small smile. "You're right. It's not. I'm just saying what I said just a minute ago. Don't be too hard on yourself. We know you care."

    "I really don't think you know how much." He slips his hand to the table. "There's something I should confess to you. Everything I do… it's for you, you know."

    Instantly, her body chills as the expression on her face turns serious. "What do you mean?"

    He keeps his eyes on his own cup as his mind struggles to put the words together. After a long time, he finally says, "When I'm a researcher, my goal is to understand pokémon so others may feel closer to them, and when I'm an inventor, I try to create things that would make life easier for everyone. Either way, every last thing I do is to create a better world for everything in it. That means…"

    "…A better world for us." Her voice is faint, and her mouth feels like it's operating outside of her will.

    He nods. "I thought it would be nice, you know. There were a lot of things that were difficult when we were children. You were too young to understand, and this was before Hope was born. I knew, though. I always did."

    "Things? Like what?"

    "Like…"

    He glances towards the stairway. Even though they aren't as close as they were when they were children, she still knows what he means. She can still read his glance, his worried expression, and realize from there he means their parents and all the things that were secret back then but aren't secrets anymore.

    "I see," she says quietly. "You know… you're too sweet. That's the problem with you, Bill."

    Lifting his cup, he takes another sip. "Someone has to look out for you – the both of you, actually. I just wish I made it clearer that that was what I was doing. You shouldn't ever feel like you're alone."

    "I don't," she says.

    He nods and places the cup back on the table. "Anyway, why am I telling you all this?"

    "You're tired."

    Lifting a hand, he rubs one of his temples. "A little."

    "That's okay." She brings her cup back to her lips. "I spiked your tea with Sleep Powder. You should be falling asleep as we speak. It's harmless, though. You'll wake up tomorrow fully rested."

    His hand grips his head. Suddenly, his body feels heavy, and it's becoming difficult for him to keep his chin up. When he looks at her, his vision grows fuzzy, and he squints to keep himself focused.

    "What?" he murmurs.

    She places her cup on the table and stands. One of her hands reaches over and ruffles his hair while the other reaches into a pocket to pull out a leather wallet.

    "You've shared something with me, so I think it's only right to share something with you." With one hand, she flips the wallet open and lets him peer at the badge inside. "I tried to tell you back then on the pier that I got a job offer. I've been keeping an eye on Team Rocket for these past few years, you know. There's things you don't know about Dad, and there's things you shouldn't know about what they think of you. But it's okay. It'll all be okay. We're gonna fix this, Bill. We'll fix it so you won't have to worry about them ever. I promise."

    "We?"

    She pulls away and walks over to the front door. In that time, she doesn't say a word as she twists the knob and opens it. Standing aside, she lets three men walk in: two in black suits and the third in a brown trench coat. She closes the door and locks it.

    "Did anyone notice you?" she asks quickly.

    One of the men in black answers her gruffly. "No. No one saw us, ma'am."

    Turning, she walks calmly to her brother and puts her hands on his arm. He allows her to pull him out of the chair, but he leans against her when he's on his feet. His head swims, and it's getting harder and harder to concentrate.

    "Sorry," she says. "This is the only way I can be certain you won't do anything stupid. I know you would. You're too sweet, you know."

    She leans over and kisses him on the forehead. He doesn't say a word or move to object. All he does is close his eyes and sway.

    "I'll need to borrow a few of your things," she says. "They won't notice a difference between us so long as I don't say anything."

    "Who?" he murmurs.

    "Team Rocket," she answers nonchalantly. "I told you, Bill. We're gonna fix this."

    The man in the brown trench coat is suddenly by her side. Carefully, he slips her brother's arm around his shoulders and helps her lead him into his bedroom. All the while, he's shaking his head and whispering pleas to her. Don't go, don't do this, it's crazy, please, Faith, no. The words tumble out of his mouth, but he's no longer conscious of what he's saying. All he knows is he's terrified, and it's getting harder and harder to discern why.

    "Just sleep for now, Bill," she says. "I promise, everything's gonna be okay."

    He shakes his head. When she turns to him, she notices that he's crying. Her heart hurts; she doesn't like deceiving him at all. But she knows she had to, and with that in mind, she reaches up and brushes the tears away from his cheeks with a thumb.

    "You used to do that too, you know. Whenever I fell and hurt myself doing something stupid, you were always there to bandage me up. You always were a good big brother like that."

    When they finally pull him to his bed, they sit him down, and the man in brown backs away. Sister stands in front of brother, hands on his shoulders and dark eyes locked with his. She smiles and kisses him one more time.

    "And Bill? Thanks for everything. You really are the best big brother ever."

    With that, she gently pushes him into lying down. He rests his head on the pillow, eyes half-closed as she pulls the covers over him. Each blink lasts a little longer, and he fights to stay awake, fights to open his mouth and tell her one last thing, fights to say the three words he hasn't yet told her. But eventually, his body wins out, and his eyes close one last time.

    She doesn't have the heart to tell him she might not be back. She leaves three hours later. He doesn't.

    Even if all the world becomes your enemy
    I will still protect you
    So you just be somewhere
    Smiling and laughing

    She is seventeen. He is eighteen. Ariana has just finished her proposal, and as she folds her manicured hands over her lap, she waits patiently for an answer from someone she thinks is someone else.

    Instead, the sister nods, and all around her, the men in black step into action. Not all of them, but there's enough. Pokémon appear. Attacks fill the room with smoke and fire and electricity. Agents grapple with grunts, handcuffs glinting in the light of each pokémon attack as one member of Team Rocket after another is subdued and cast aside. Ariana glares at her and slips off the desk to disappear into the chaos. The hold on the sister releases, and she stands with a small smile in the middle of the battlefield. Her hand reaches into a pocket and pulls out a poké ball, one that she knows contains her charizard, the one thing she could rely on in situations like this.

    But then, an arbok appears above her, jaws open and a hiss rushing from its throat. She turns just as the snake opens its jaws wide, parts its long fangs, and lunges.

    Time slows down at that point, but she doesn't have a chance to move before the snake envelopes her in darkness.

    You are my prince; I am your servant
    Destiny divided pitiful twins
    If it's to protect you,
    I'll become evil for you

    Bill wakes up. After a second, he sits bolt upright and stares at the wall straight ahead of him. He swears he felt something – a pang in his heart that lingers. Something is missing, but he can't put his finger on what.

    In the corner of the room is a man in a trench coat. It takes a moment for Bill to notice him, and when he does, he instantly feels a creeping sensation crawl across his entire body. He tenses, waiting for this man to say something.

    "Bill," he says, "my name is Looker, and there's something I should tell you. It's about your sister."

    Right away, Bill's heart stops.

    He is eighteen.

    If I could be reborn
    At that time, I'd like to play with you again.

    REBOOT: Chapter fifteen now available. | Original: Chapter thirty-one now available.

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  2. #2
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    Initially, I was only going to skim this for now mostly to seize up my competition for pokeprompts and read it thoroughly later when I don't feel stinky and feel the need to shower, but the writing dragged me in. So I hope you're proud of yourself. You made me endure reading your one-shot in the glory of my stench. >(

    Okay, seriously, what I've always liked about your stories (okay, all two of them, this being one of them >.>) is pretty much how you write. I think you're very aware of how the mind works and how sentence structure works (lol you better) so the finished product is something that flows smoothly despite the scene jumps/time jumps; you really know how to hook a reader in and make the read addicting. *shake fist* I also really like how you begin each section. It was a nice way to tie everything together while being informative/pretty sneaky, sis (will get back to that later) at the same time.

    [Commercial break so I can take a shower. I cannot this sweat anymore. This is why it takes me a thousand years to review. Not showering, just bad attention span.]

    Anyway, I also like the build up. Ignoring the first little scene, which deserves its own two sentence paragraph, I like how you used the scenes to not only illustrate the close but awkward relationship between Bill and Faith but to showcase that the events are trailing toward something darker. Really, you really can't go any "lighter" than a beach scene with two little kids holding each other's hand ... not unless you add a unicorn playing the harp or something. While each scenes illustrates the unfortunate distance growing between the two (at a nice, believable pace I might add), you still have that sense of Bill's unspoken love and devotion for his sister. Your portrayal of Faith was adorable, by the way. <3 That "I'm hungry" line was so simple but just oozed cuteness. It was nice to see her develop into quite a strong female character. Bill was also interesting, mostly in part because I felt like he never really aged. XP I suppose that is part of his character, being brilliant beyond his years. Their relationship was very on key to actual older brother/little sister dynamics, with the older brother protective but teasing and the younger sister annoying but adoring of her brother.

    Back to my promise two-sentence paragraph on the first scene ... The more I re-read that paragraph and a certain paragraph at the end, the more I fall in love with it and the more I feel deceived. It is such a strong opener that you really do want to figure out more, and once you do figure out more, it's ... it's mind-boggling, really. Once everything clicked, it clicked hard for me, and I was blown away by all the Team Rocket-related sections.

    He is eighteen, and she is seventeen. His sibling is safe, asleep in his bed at home.
    Once I fully understood what was going on, I re-read the seventeen/eighteen sections to see how you played with the language. I like this bit. I can't explain it; it might be the gender-neutrality of "sibling" to disguise it. It just stuck out to me. Likewise, this section:

    Instead, he closes his eyes and lets them lead him on their journey. He wonders what his sibling must be dreaming about. Is she happy? Is she having a nightmare? She may not know it – because they've spent far too long apart – but he frequently wonders about these two questions. The possibilities worry him more than he has ever admitted to her.
    has had me thinking about what exactly "Bill" is thinking (I'm pretty sure this is a section with Faith in disguise anyway. I'm going to feel really ridiculous if it's not). If I understand correctly, I would say she thinks Bill is dreaming about her? Yet at the same time, if you think this is actually Bill, and at this point of the story, readers do think that, it works as just regular thought.

    /ramble. tl;dr: JAX, YOU ARE BRILLIANT. OMG MY MIND IS BLOWN.

    Going back to your scene starters ("he is, she is"), I do like that you pretty much tricked me; it made that "She is, he is" scene starter so much more ominous and powerful.

    She doesn't have the heart to tell him she might not be back. She leaves three hours later. He doesn't.
    I also like this scene end. It reflects back nicely to the earlier childhood sections of Bill having to leave Faith.

    There's a beat of silence as he takes a sip. If he was more alert, he would have detected a strange bitter taste, but he's not.
    I'm actually not sure if you wanted the following dialogue to be tainted with an eerie malice. Because this sentence was a little blunt of something possibly going wrong, my focus was more on "Okay, well, Bill is going to keel over any second" rather than, well, the actual dialogue. I guess it does "cushion" the initial blow of Bill finding out what had happened, thus giving you the opportunity to focus on more important things in that section (that scene is chaotic enough), though. *shrug*

    I'm also still trying to figure out why you introduced that woman in the fifteen/fourteen section besides to match the lyrics of the song ... I want to say it's somewhat important, but maybe it's just a slice-of-life section ...? Maybe it'll click for me later. Or you can tell me. Whatever comes first.

    Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. It was beautifully thought out, beautifully executed, and enough to keep my mind spinning over the narrative and language choices.

    edit: Well, ffft. Forgot to comment on the lyrics woven throughout the piece. I'm actually not the hugest fan of lyrics-in-stories either because I felt they were corny or they spoil the following section. I do like your song choice, however, and you organized it well enough that it didn't really spoil what was going to happen later on or wasn't annoyingly sappy. It also fit your theme to a T. So was it the song that inspired the story or the song just match really well with an idea you had?

    edit x 2: Oh, right. If I read your LJ, I could answer that question for you.
    Last edited by Breezy; 4th July 2011 at 10:10 PM.

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    . . . Damn it, Jax. I'd like to say that I knew where this was going as soon as you mentioned Servant Of Evil, but I'd be lying. For some reason, I didn't pick it up until '"Here, I will lend you my clothes' . At that stage, it pretty much hit me like a ton of bricks when I thought back to the short scene at the beginning. So at that point, I kind of figured out what was going to happen . . . and then you went and got my hopes up with the apparent success of the raid, but then that arbok came out of nowhere, and . . . well.

    On top of that, what really hammered it in for me was that last line - 'He is eighteen.' After spending the whole fic reading 'He is five, she is four.' ; 'He is nine, and she is eight.', that was like the final blow for me . . . I was reading in History and I teared up, because I'm a softie like that. It was awkward. On a similar note, I noticed how when Faith 'becomes' Bill, the order of their ages reverse ('She is seventeen, he is eighteen.'. Subtle, but I definitely enjoyed the touch.

    On the whole, I have no qualms with the surface features of this fic, as per usual. Your writing style is solid and I didn't see any errors.

    The fic, as you can probably gather from what I've already said, was very effective on an emotional level. I really felt that connection between the siblings drifting apart, and it certainly made the ending 'turnaround', if you will, all the more poignant.

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    Finally getting a chance to sit down and respond!

    Quote Originally Posted by Breezy View Post
    Initially, I was only going to skim this for now mostly to seize up my competition for pokeprompts and read it thoroughly later when I don't feel stinky and feel the need to shower, but the writing dragged me in. So I hope you're proud of yourself. You made me endure reading your one-shot in the glory of my stench. >(
    It's a form of torture, and you know I'm a sadist. ;D

    Seriously, ooh. Remind me to review your work too. Along with the other people posting this round on Pokeprompts. For pretty much the same reason. That and LJ isn't exactly a shiny bastion of comments, unfortunately, so your fic looks lonely over there.

    Okay, seriously, what I've always liked about your stories (okay, all two of them, this being one of them >.>) is pretty much how you write. I think you're very aware of how the mind works and how sentence structure works (lol you better) so the finished product is something that flows smoothly despite the scene jumps/time jumps; you really know how to hook a reader in and make the read addicting. *shake fist* I also really like how you begin each section. It was a nice way to tie everything together while being informative/pretty sneaky, sis (will get back to that later) at the same time.
    Thank you! It really means a lot to me to hear that I managed to enthrall someone, and of course, flow is always a worry of mine as well. Especially with this kind of fic, actually, where the action isn't linear, so I have to figure out a way to go from one idea to the next without making it overly obvious that even I couldn't stay on topic for more than five minutes. (I don't know why. For long fics, I have no trouble writing a scene from start to finish, but when it comes to one-shots, I have the attention span of a goldfish with ADHD. Idek, but fun fact? Every single one of these scenes was written out of order to the point where my document was, at some point, filled with a mish-mash of beginnings and endings. Which is probably how I managed to forget to cover an entire scene, but I'll get to that in a moment.)

    Really, you really can't go any "lighter" than a beach scene with two little kids holding each other's hand ... not unless you add a unicorn playing the harp or something.
    EXCUSE ME WHILE I PUT THAT IN THE REWRITE. :V AND, AND AS IT'S PLAYING, THERE'S A RAINBOW SPEWING FROM SOMEWHERE. AND GLITTER.

    While each scenes illustrates the unfortunate distance growing between the two (at a nice, believable pace I might add), you still have that sense of Bill's unspoken love and devotion for his sister. Your portrayal of Faith was adorable, by the way. <3 That "I'm hungry" line was so simple but just oozed cuteness. It was nice to see her develop into quite a strong female character. Bill was also interesting, mostly in part because I felt like he never really aged. XP I suppose that is part of his character, being brilliant beyond his years. Their relationship was very on key to actual older brother/little sister dynamics, with the older brother protective but teasing and the younger sister annoying but adoring of her brother.
    Thank you again! Yet another worry of mine while writing the fic was whether or not I was getting overly angsty, so it's really good to hear that it's actually believable more than outright "OMG WOE IS MEEEE."

    Fun fact, though? It's funny you should mention the bit about brother/sister dynamic. A lot of that is based on my own personal life and observations, at the risk of being angsty. I know a lot of people who are BFFs with their siblings and a lot of people who have relationships on the opposite end of the spectrum. So, some of Bill and Faith's relationship is based on that, where they want to be on one end of the spectrum but actually end up on the other.

    And part of it is also based on my personal relationship with my own older brother, which really isn't so much angsty as it is, "Okay, we're family, and we realize we care about each other and respect each other, but we might just call once every blue moon just to see if the other's not dead and also maybe to ask if our parents are around." Only we're more or less perfectly fine with that because I'm a intensely socially inept eccentric whereas my brother is a massive hipster-bro. But the fic, to get back to the point, is basically based on that awkward, distant relationship while asking the question of, "What if the brother and sister weren't that okay with it?"

    And that's how you write characters with issues, kids. The secret is just to have issues yourself or to know a lot of people who do. b)'')b

    /ramble

    The more I re-read that paragraph and a certain paragraph at the end, the more I fall in love with it and the more I feel deceived.
    *evil laughter* Eeeexcellent.

    has had me thinking about what exactly "Bill" is thinking (I'm pretty sure this is a section with Faith in disguise anyway. I'm going to feel really ridiculous if it's not). If I understand correctly, I would say she thinks Bill is dreaming about her?
    That's one way to look at it that I never intended but wish I did now (because it's so very adorable and true to Faith). What I meant there was basically the same thought only with reversed pronouns. So, Faith is worried about whether Bill is having dreams or nightmares, but she would never tell him this because, ****, Bill is Bill, dude. The guy can take care of himself unless locked in a Kabuto costume, which he's never gonna tell Faith about.

    But yep, the piece is also meant to be read front-ways, as Bill being worried about whether or not Faith is having good dreams.

    /ramble. tl;dr: JAX, YOU ARE BRILLIANT. OMG MY MIND IS BLOWN.
    MY WORK HERE IS DONE. *salutes and walks out*

    Going back to your scene starters ("he is, she is"), I do like that you pretty much tricked me; it made that "She is, he is" scene starter so much more ominous and powerful.
    Awesome! That trick worked! \o/

    I mean, uh, I politely thank you for the compliment. Yes.

    I'm actually not sure if you wanted the following dialogue to be tainted with an eerie malice.
    I actually didn't. XD I'll have to look back over that and figure out a way that hints that something isn't quite right while not implying that Faith is a psycho who wants her brother dead. Because really (if I haven't already made it immensely obvious), Faith has always appreciated Bill and loved him in the same way he loves her, so I can definitely see how it's awkward to have anything that remotely implies that she wants to hurt him. (Not to mention that's very soap-opera-ish. "OMG, you ignored me, so now I'm going to kill you"? Yikes. Who seriously does that?)

    I'm also still trying to figure out why you introduced that woman in the fifteen/fourteen section besides to match the lyrics of the song ...
    FUN FACT: THERE IS A SCENE MISSING HERE BECAUSE I AM A MORON.

    (Can I make that blink? I feel like that needs to be blinking. If this was LJ, I'd add in a sparkly background too.)

    Basically, what's going on in this scene is this:

    Faith is all geared up to tell Bill that she's gotten involved with something (Nick Fury someone from the Global Police approached her with a job offer, and she doesn't know whether or not she should take it), and she wants his advice. She's about to ask when in walks in the woman. (To shamelessly cater to both major sects of Bill-related shipping, her identity is made vague, so she can be interpreted as either Lanette or Daisy.) Bill innocently welcomes her with enthusiasm, completely unaware that he's actually blowing his sister off because he's an idiot. Faith takes notice and instantly gets jealous because all of a sudden, she's not the most major woman in Bill's life. But then the woman speaks, and O HAI THAR GIRL CRUSH. Which is why it's noteworthy that the birthday went without incident and that Faith flew off blushing.

    The missing scene would have dealt with the subsequent messy break-up due to Bill being an idiot at relationships/realizing that he can't have distractions because he NEEDS TO BE A RESEARCHER BECAUSE IT'S HIS ~*~PURPOSE~*~, which would have included Faith finding out/observing Bill being a brooding angstmuffin. She would then respond by resolving to verbally *****slap the woman, even at the risk of her own happiness. All this to prove just how messed up her end of the relationship actually is.

    BUT THEN I DECIDED IT'D BE A GREAT IDEA NOT TO INCLUDE THIS PART, EVEN THOUGH IT WOULD TOTALLY MAKE THAT RANDOM CHARACTER MAKE SENSE. YAY CAPSLOCKED STUPIDITY ACKNOWLEDGMENT! \o/

    But because I'm a lazy-*** an artiste, I might just bring this up in a side story/spin-off, rather than risk screwing with the way this story is structured. Buuut at least there's that to help clear up that part in the meantime.

    Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. It was beautifully thought out, beautifully executed, and enough to keep my mind spinning over the narrative and language choices.
    Thank you! \o/ It really means a lot to me to hear that, seriously.

    I'm actually not the hugest fan of lyrics-in-stories either because I felt they were corny or they spoil the following section.
    I do have to admit I agree with you, which is why it's really a rare thing for me to do songfics. (Even this wasn't the complete song – only a butchered version with all the lyrics rearranged.)

    Or they're there only to highlight some over-the-top angst, which in turn would highlight the fact that the author is fourteen. And those fics are just hilarious, in my opinion, even if they're really, really not supposed to be. (But how else are we supposed to read Misty bawling in the rain over Ash's untimely and violent death?)

    So was it the song that inspired the story or the song just match really well with an idea you had?

    edit x 2: Oh, right. If I read your LJ, I could answer that question for you.
    XD WELL, I know you got the answer to this question via LJ, but for anyone else who might have the same question, the song definitely, definitely inspired the story. And all its previous attempted incarnations. Many of which are too embarrassing to talk about. (Seriously, I don't even know what I was drinking for some of them. I think it was bathtub gin.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragon user X View Post
    . . . Damn it, Jax. I'd like to say that I knew where this was going as soon as you mentioned Servant Of Evil, but I'd be lying. For some reason, I didn't pick it up until '"Here, I will lend you my clothes' . At that stage, it pretty much hit me like a ton of bricks when I thought back to the short scene at the beginning. So at that point, I kind of figured out what was going to happen . . . and then you went and got my hopes up with the apparent success of the raid, but then that arbok came out of nowhere, and . . . well.
    Oh, I love a good mindscrew convoluted plot. It's always so much fun to watch people flail as they try to figure out what the ending will be.

    I mean, uh, thanks! >_> <_<

    On top of that, what really hammered it in for me was that last line - 'He is eighteen.'
    Good catch right there, by the by! Fun fact: The line was originally going to be, "He is eighteen. She was seventeen," but then I realized I didn't want it to be obvious that Faith is dead so that the optimists might be able to get a different interpretation out of the ending.

    I was reading in History and I teared up, because I'm a softie like that. It was awkward.
    Depending on what you're studying in history, this could potentially be immensely satisfying. And by that, I mean hilarious.

    On a similar note, I noticed how when Faith 'becomes' Bill, the order of their ages reverse ('She is seventeen, he is eighteen.'. Subtle, but I definitely enjoyed the touch.
    Also a good catch! I wanted to make it as clear as possible at that point that all those Team Rocket scenes were actually not following Bill but rather following Faith, so I was hoping reversing the first line would do exactly what you pointed it out as doing: symbolizing a reversal in identities, at the risk of being overly pretentious.

    In short, the subtle parts of this fic were what really made it fun to write. There's the playing around with the ages, for example, and the repeated image of the hand being held out palm up, characters not having the heart to tell someone something, and a stealth pun that no one's caught yet.

    On the whole, I have no qualms with the surface features of this fic, as per usual. Your writing style is solid and I didn't see any errors.
    Thank you! Believe me, I went over this like a rabid dog going over a carcass.

    And that was probably not the best analogy ever.

    The fic, as you can probably gather from what I've already said, was very effective on an emotional level. I really felt that connection between the siblings drifting apart, and it certainly made the ending 'turnaround', if you will, all the more poignant.
    And of course, I really, really appreciate this comment as well. It's awesome to hear that it affected someone that way. :D

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  5. #5
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    I think that ending line did work better than it would have if you'd gone on to refer to Faith's age in the past tense like you considered, yes. Good call. I like a bit of ambiguity, but I think that if you had left any possibility that Faith might be alive, I would have died so hard right there. Also . . .

    Depending on what you're studying in history, this could potentially be immensely satisfying. And by that, I mean hilarious.
    It was the Night of the Long Knives, where Hitler had huge numbers of his own henchmen massacred. :/ Make of that what you will.

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    I'm going to make a public apology right here.

    I completely ruined this fic for myself by reading it tired, I saw the words and I understand what the words were, but I didn't understand the meaning of the words.

    I could appreciate the crafts(wo)menship of the fic.

    I could appreciate how the grammar was all well and good.

    But I didn't enjoy it.

    It's like what my parents told me a few months ago, "We were watching Inception but we'd have one or two glasses of wine, so we were like whaaaaaat..? We're watching Shutter Island instead."

    To use an obscure Street Fighter analogy that no one will probably get, which gets me thinking why I'm using it in the first place, but meh. I was in the midset to read a fic like E. Honda, big blunt objects that do damage easily and without effort. This fic was like C. Viper, you need sick execution and a thorough understanding of the fine art of mindfuckery to get damage and your win.

    In short, I was just hitting buttons and got bodied by this fic.
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    Your tenses are a little wonky in places:

    Her expression softens as she stands quietly, but just as quickly as the look on her face changed, it shifted back to an annoyed glare.
    While the "changed" can work since it's referring to a change that 'already happened', the "shifted" should definitely be "shifts".

    He doesn't have the heart to tell her that the following month, he would be leaving for his pokémon journey. She wouldn't be going with him.
    In these you're not talking about anything that already happened at all, however, so this should be will and won't.

    Ever since he graduated college and moved to a remote part of Kanto, she heard all kinds of rumors about him.
    That should be has heard, since you're talking about something that's been happening ever since, not something that just happened once.


    Also, this threw me for a bit of a loop:

    He is fifteen, she is fourteen, and everyone most definitely knows about them. [...]

    Not long before her fourteenth birthday, he calls her.
    In the first bit you imply she is already fourteen, and when you then start talking about before her fourteenth birthday, I'm not sure if the "she is fourteen" was just an approximation or if this is a sudden flashback to one of the phone calls (in which case it should either be set off as its own scene or written in past tense).


    But this was pretty clever. I must admit I didn't know Bill had a sister to begin with, and I actually spent half of the fic thinking Ariana was his sister, which for all I knew could have been canon. (At the beginning she's the only person in the room who scares him; then she "introduces herself as" Ariana and he spends a while thinking about her grin and how it's not that wicked, etc.; then there are song lyrics about an evil sibling ruling the world; and then you start talking about "their" memories, as he is five and "she" is four.) I'm not sure if this was intended or if it's just a really amusing coincidence how easy it is to interpret it that way.

    The "He is X, she is X-1" opening lines tied things together nicely (though I actually think I'd prefer if it ended with "He is eighteen. She was seventeen", personally), the sibling dynamic is well done, and rereading the first scene after finding out about the swap is quite stirring, with the knowledge of what it is that "Bill" would do all over again. Like Breezy I wasn't really going to read this now (because I'm at work and I'm supposed to be programming), but your writing sucked me in anyway and I couldn't stop.

    There are still a few things that confuse me, though. First, though having Lanette/Daisy in the fifteen/fourteen scene makes sense in that her arrival stops Faith talking about her job offer and makes her feel even more ignored, I don't understand the actual story purpose of her falling in love with Lanette/Daisy at first sight (or of the post-breakup scene you forgot to include). It feels like a distracting, unnecessary extra element to the story, and doesn't really tell us much new about Faith that's actually relevant to the current story at hand. The post-breakup scene would tell us she cares about him enough to tell off her crush for breaking up with him, sure, but because she's met said crush once, it doesn't feel like that would really be saying all that much, and in comparison to the later revelation that she ultimately sacrificed her life for him, showing her also sacrificing her silly teenage crush for him seems absurdly trivial and honestly kind of redundant. Introducing the crush just seems to be a needless complication in a fic that's about Bill and Faith's relationship. But I could be missing the point here.

    Then I could just be tired, but I don't actually get what Faith's undercover mission was trying to do - the men who took her to the Radio Tower were undercover agents from the Global Police, if I'm understanding this correctly, but then why did she need to be disguised as Bill? Why did Bill need to be sleeping while they carried out the mission? I'd initially assumed, once the "changing places" thing came to light, that she disguised herself as Bill so that the actual Team Rocket agents who were coming for Bill would take her instead, but then in the tower it sounds like the Team Rocket agents were actually the men that came with Looker to their house, in which case they've clearly already infiltrated the organization on a deep enough level that I don't get where Bill comes into it at all.

    Also, this is probably just my unfamiliarity with this part of canon, but I really didn't get what all the references to their parents were actually on about. Who is Bill's father again?


    Otherwise, nice work. This was quite enjoyable and well executed.
    Last edited by Dragonfree; 6th July 2011 at 5:33 PM.

    Chapter 64: Hide and Seek
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    A few scientists get drunk and start fiddling with gene splicing. Ten years later, they're taking care of eight half-Pokémon kids, each freakier than the next, while a religious fanatic plots to murder them all.

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    *finally gets a chance to sit down and reply*

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    To use an obscure Street Fighter analogy that no one will probably get, which gets me thinking why I'm using it in the first place, but meh. I was in the midset to read a fic like E. Honda, big blunt objects that do damage easily and without effort. This fic was like C. Viper, you need sick execution and a thorough understanding of the fine art of mindfuckery to get damage and your win.
    I love you.

    But seriously, I can totally get that. This is pretty much a far cry from what I've been posting on SPPf so far, so I'm definitely not surprised that someone found it jarring. Sorry about that, though. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled sci-fi/fantasy/horror bloodfest in a week or so, I promise you that. b)'')b

    And in any case, thanks for sticking through it nonetheless, even if it wasn't your cuppa. *brofist*

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonfree View Post
    Your tenses are a little wonky in places:


    While the "changed" can work since it's referring to a change that 'already happened', the "shifted" should definitely be "shifts".

    In these you're not talking about anything that already happened at all, however, so this should be will and won't.
    Thanks for that. I'm not as used to writing in present tense as I should be, so I'm also not surprised that I missed a few glitches in the proofreading process, especially given the fact that I was playing with timeframes all over the place here. (You should've seen the first draft. It was kinda hilarious.) I'll get those fixed up in a potential rewrite.

    Same thing with the imperfect tense lulz there. It's never been much of a friend of mine, no matter which language I studied.

    In the first bit you imply she is already fourteen, and when you then start talking about before her fourteenth birthday, I'm not sure if the "she is fourteen" was just an approximation or if this is a sudden flashback to one of the phone calls (in which case it should either be set off as its own scene or written in past tense).
    Ooh, good point, and it seems like an easy enough fix. The latter's supposed to be the case here, where it's meant to be that there's a flashback-within-a-flashback to explain how the moment that actually takes place when she's fourteen (the one on her birthday) came about.

    But this was pretty clever. I must admit I didn't know Bill had a sister to begin with, and I actually spent half of the fic thinking Ariana was his sister, which for all I knew could have been canon. (At the beginning she's the only person in the room who scares him; then she "introduces herself as" Ariana and he spends a while thinking about her grin and how it's not that wicked, etc.; then there are song lyrics about an evil sibling ruling the world; and then you start talking about "their" memories, as he is five and "she" is four.) I'm not sure if this was intended or if it's just a really amusing coincidence how easy it is to interpret it that way.
    I have to admit that wasn't intentional, but it's totally staying in because that's an awesome possible way to interpret the beginning.

    The "He is X, she is X-1" opening lines tied things together nicely (though I actually think I'd prefer if it ended with "He is eighteen. She was seventeen", personally), the sibling dynamic is well done, and rereading the first scene after finding out about the swap is quite stirring, with the knowledge of what it is that "Bill" would do all over again. Like Breezy I wasn't really going to read this now (because I'm at work and I'm supposed to be programming), but your writing sucked me in anyway and I couldn't stop.
    Thank you! I'm glad that everything (besides the confusing bits which were one part "Jax needs to get her tenses straight for once" and two parts "Jax is about to launch into long-winded explanations in just a second") came across with that sense of unity that I was aiming for, if that makes sense. (Or, well, in any case, the sense of patterns and the emotional aspect. At this point, I'd like to note that I'm also a bit tired, so if I make no sense here, sorry about that.) Not to mention I'm really glad I was able to grab and hold the attention of yet another person who should have been doing something else at the time they swore they were only going to be skimming. XD

    First, though having Lanette/Daisy in the fifteen/fourteen scene makes sense in that her arrival stops Faith talking about her job offer and makes her feel even more ignored, I don't understand the actual story purpose of her falling in love with Lanette/Daisy at first sight (or of the post-breakup scene you forgot to include). It feels like a distracting, unnecessary extra element to the story, and doesn't really tell us much new about Faith that's actually relevant to the current story at hand. The post-breakup scene would tell us she cares about him enough to tell off her crush for breaking up with him, sure, but because she's met said crush once, it doesn't feel like that would really be saying all that much, and in comparison to the later revelation that she ultimately sacrificed her life for him, showing her also sacrificing her silly teenage crush for him seems absurdly trivial and honestly kind of redundant. Introducing the crush just seems to be a needless complication in a fic that's about Bill and Faith's relationship. But I could be missing the point here.
    You know, the more I think about it, the more I'm finding it harder and harder to explain why that part was in there besides to match the song, and what you said right here convinced me to consider tweaking it a bit on the rewrite (if I ever get around to doing that because knowing me… haha, yeah). I like what one poster on LJ said about interpreting the scene as Faith becoming jealous over someone else grabbing Bill's attention, so I'm thinking of reworking the scene to include more a slant in that direction. I've got ideas that it might help in her character development – perhaps serve as her motivation (however terrible that might be because Faith isn't exactly the queen of good decisions – what with being closer to an overdramatic teenager than Bill is and all) for joining the Global Police in that she wants to earn back her place as the center of Bill's universe. Which could then feed into all kinds of equally delicious consequences if that ends up being the entire point of why she's going against Team Rocket in the seventeen/eighteen scenes. Or at least if I include a few other scenes before hand, offer an opportunity to turn her from a selfish brat to someone who genuinely wants to give back the kindness and care other people have shown her. I have to admit I haven't entirely thought about the finer details about a potential rewrite, but with this idea in mind, I'm thinking I would like to spend more time with the fic in order to work out the possibilities here. Or at least spend more time in its universe in general.

    So I guess the tl;dr version of that is you've definitely got a point, and that point's going to serve to do terrible, terrible things to these characters in the future. (Also, the other tl;dr version of that is "Jax needs to stop talking to herself.")

    the men who took her to the Radio Tower were undercover agents from the Global Police, if I'm understanding this correctly, but then why did she need to be disguised as Bill? Why did Bill need to be sleeping while they carried out the mission? I'd initially assumed, once the "changing places" thing came to light, that she disguised herself as Bill so that the actual Team Rocket agents who were coming for Bill would take her instead, but then in the tower it sounds like the Team Rocket agents were actually the men that came with Looker to their house, in which case they've clearly already infiltrated the organization on a deep enough level that I don't get where Bill comes into it at all.
    Hilariously, the original idea I had was that she would go on her own to face Team Rocket disguised as Bill, but then I couldn't quite figure out what she would do after that because it's an entire organization against one person (and I didn't want to risk creating a Mary Sue by following the game's logic of "YOU CAN TOTALLY TAKE DOWN A CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION BY YOURSELF GUYS").

    So instead, I had meant to imply that the Global Police had intended on using her (not necessarily disguised as Bill) to infiltrate Team Rocket alongside other agents, but things sort of changed when Ariana and her team decided, "You know what would be fun? Taking over an entire blinking city." So, they basically rewrote that plan and opted to use her as a distraction to position a bunch of agents (more than the two shown with Looker but fewer than the number of grunts in the tower) throughout that location in order to strike and end the siege on Goldenrod City. I can't quite say whether or not that plan actually worked because it's not entirely relevant to the story itself, but it was meant to be more like a quick fix to an immediate problem (with the added bonus of potentially capturing a Rocket executive), rather than the Police's full operation against the Rockets.

    But I do have to admit that I'm not particularly fond of this idea, either, and now that I mentioned a combination of Faith trying her hardest to earn back her brother's respect, the fact that she's meant to be a strong trainer, and the original concept, I can't help but think of a potential alternative where she does do something immensely stupid like actually going into the tower by herself. The only downside is I'd have to come up with an explanation as to why the Global Police would want to recruit someone who would do something that impulsive and stupid unless I either took out that element or tried to explain that, as a rookie/trainee, she's going to make some seriously messed up mistakes.

    Also! The part about Bill sleeping. That wasn't actually necessary for the Global Police's plan at all; it was actually necessary for Faith's. Because of Bill's devotion to his sister (and his occasional tendency to make attempts for the Darwin Awards and either pass them off as completely intentional or completely ignore them), he would have followed her and/or attempted to stop her from rushing off to save him/Goldenrod single-handedly. Faith assumed this, so the best course of action (she felt) was to drug him before he could get any ideas. That's why she said, "This is the only way I can be certain you won't do anything stupid. I know you would. You're too sweet, you know."

    Also, this is probably just my unfamiliarity with this part of canon, but I really didn't get what all the references to their parents were actually on about. Who is Bill's father again?
    There's only two things canon says about Bill's father:

    1. He is/was a great Pokémaniac. (i.e., like Bill but apparently better?)
    2. He prefers gambling in the Game Corner to doing any kind of work nowadays. This includes frequently slipping out of the house undetected to go play games.

    Considering the general treatment of fathers in the Pokémon fandom (Brock's, Ash's, so forth…), I took this to mean Bill's father isn't exactly the pinnacle of parenthood. Which is to say, in my headcanon, that second point implies a gambling problem, and he doesn't quite grasp the concept of responsibility, particularly towards his family. I don't want to say that Bill's family was ever poor, but I do want to say that, most likely, they weren't always a happy bunch free from arguments about money.

    Otherwise, nice work. This was quite enjoyable and well executed.
    Thank you! And thanks especially for the springboards for ideas. I'm hoping to implement a lot of the stuff that popped into mind thanks to the things you said in a rewrite, as I've said, especially now that I have pretty much all the time in the world to develop the story a bit further.
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 9th July 2011 at 8:09 AM.

    REBOOT: Chapter fifteen now available. | Original: Chapter thirty-one now available.

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