A/N: This fic is rated PG-15 for some explicit language (mostly in the first chapter. I've chosen to leave it censored for now, as it's not as common later.) and violence.
I ought to say something about this fic, really. A bit late, but here goes. This is basically written for fun. Champion Game is what I write for a more serious kind of enjoyment, and this is a distraction from that. As well as that, I got way ahead on CG during NaNoWriMo. I had a seven-chapter buffer or something, which disappeared with alarming rapidity (It's down to two now). I know people don't like being flooded with chapters, so I started this as a side project to slow down my production of Champion Game. I'm terrible with keeping deadlines, so I post things when they're done. If I have a chapter buffer, I'll post them as soon as I can, which often means two or three days after the last one. That doesn't give people time to read and review. So what I'm doing is putting this out as a less serious, more whimsical alternative. Chapters will come out pretty quickly for this, I imagine. I'll publish them as soon as I finish writing them, but Champion Game will slow down as a result, which is exactly what I want. I'll stop talking now. I can always blab in later chapters.
That aside, let me know if you like this. This fic isn't nearly as serious as Champion Game, so feel free to holler out plot holes in the games that you want me to fill. That's basically the intention of this fic. Most importantly, have fun! You want drama? Go read Champion Game. This is the land of whimsy, parody and lampshade-hanging!
1 - In Which Alvaro Gets Wet (this post)
2 - In Which Kathy Gets Mad
3 - In Which Alvaro Screws With the Game Canon
4 - In Which Alvaro Learns Something
5 - In Which Kathy Meets a Friend
In Which Alvaro Gets Wet
“I've had it with this!” Hilda Wayland spat, pulling the heavy black duvet off her apparently unconscious son and tipping a glass of water over his head.
Alvaro spluttered and swore loudly, swiping his hand through the air and almost knocking the glass out of his mother's hand. So much for pretending to be asleep. He sat up and glared at her, pushing his now sopping wet hair out of his eyes. “What the actual ****, Mom? Are you drunk or something?”
“Don't talk to me like that, young man!” she said sharply, standing back with her arms crossed. She was a tall woman, and although she wasn't in any way bulky, she still managed to pull off intimidating.
“No, I'm serious,” Alvaro said with a grimace. “Are you, like, high on something? What's up in your grill this morning?”
“You, Alvaro Wayland, are 'up in my grill',” she growled. “Look, if you're not going to go to school, you can get the hell out of my house. It's one o'clock in the afternoon!”
“Fine, fine,” he groaned. “I'll leave you alone for the day. Whatever! You didn't have to try and bloody drown me!”
“I'm not talking about just today,” she said with a slight sigh, sitting down on his desk chair and looking at him with careful eyes. She still looked mad, he noted apprehensively, but there was a tinge of worry in her gaze as well. “I am absolutely sick of you acting like there is nothing to do in your life.”
“But there really is nothing,” he grumbled.
“We've had this discussion, Al!” she said. “I'm not having you lazing around my house every day! You either go to school, or you make something useful of your life!”
“Seriously, Mom? I thought we got over this.” Realising how ridiculous he must look, Alvaro pulled his legs out of bed and sat cross-legged on top of the damp sheets, scowling. “I'm not going back to that ****ing school, and nothing you can do or say is gonna make me!”
“I'll call the truant officer again if you really insist,” she said, narrowing her bright green eyes dangerously.
“And what? I'll go back to school for another couple of weeks until they lose interest, and then I'll stop going again. Look, you need to get it through your damn head! I hate that damn school and I'm not setting foot inside its gates again if I can help it! It's boring and dull and generally full of ****. I already know the crap they teach in class. Remember one weekend when I was twelve, I got bored and read all those maths textbooks? Yeah, poof. There goes precalc. It's old as **** and I'm not sitting through another day there.”
“You're really serious about this, aren't you?” Most of the wrath had bled away from his mother's face, though he noticed a slight flash of indignation every time he cursed. She was looking at him now with an almost pitying expression.
“Of course I'm damn well serious!” he grunted, pushing his still-damp black hair off his face again.
“Look, honey . . . I'm not happy about you not going to school. You know that. But at the same time, I haven't really tried as hard to stop you as I should have. That's my fault. But I only did that because I know, in a way, that you're telling the truth. You know the whole curriculum. And that leaves me with a massive problem, because I don't know what to do with you.”
“Who says you have to do anything with me?” Alvaro asked, hopeful she would take the hint and leave him in peace.
“I do, you ungrateful little rat,” she said, but her tone was mild. She sighed again, heavily this time. “I can't help but feel I've failed as a mother.”
“If anything, I'd say it's the opposite. You did too well, and I learned all the **** too early.” While mollifying his mother was low on his list of priorities, well below 'go back to sleep', he still felt a need to correct her.
She took a deep breath in, and Alvaro winced. He knew that little idiosyncrasy. Big words were coming.
“That's why I'm giving you a choice, Al,” she said, looking him steadily in the eyes. “An ultimatum, if you like.”
He narrowed his eyes – the same acid green as his mother's. “Go on,” he said simply. While he put as much contempt into the words as he could, his mind was racing in horrible directions. What was she going to suggest? Boarding school? Boot camp?
“You have two options.”
“That's one more than you usually give me.”
“Shut up,” she said, an abnormal brusqueness audible in her voice. “This isn't easy for me either. One, you go back to school and you damn well stay there. You only have one year left, after all. You go back to school, you take your classes, sit the exams and graduate. Then you get a job, or go to college if you want.”
“Not much of a choice,” he said, leaning back against the wall above his bed. “What's the other option? Not like I really want to know, but . . .”
In answer, she simply reached into her pocket and pulled out a small sphere. It was red and white, with a black band running starkly around the middle that encompassed a small white button.
Alvaro's jaw dropped. “Oh, no. Oh, **** no.”
She raised an eyebrow and pressed the button, causing it to grow from the size of a ping-pong ball to that of a baseball with a metallic clink.
“You have got to be ****ing kidding me!” he exclaimed. “You can not be ****ing serious!”
“I'm dead serious, Alvaro,” she said levelly, causing him to wince as he noticed the renewed use of his whole name. “This is your choice. You go back to school or you go and take the Gym challenge.”
“That is absolute ********,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief. “I didn't want to do it six years ago, so why the **** would I want to do it now?”
“Gee, I don't know,” she said innocently, tossing the ball from hand to hand. “Maybe because the alternative is spending another year in school?”
“I have to ask again, Mom . . . are you stoned off your head? What makes you think I'd do something crazy like that?”
Her voice took on a serious edge. “Think about it, Al. Getting a Pokémon Trainer's License means you're taken off the student register. You don't have to go to school. No more truant officers, no more detentions stacking up on your record. No legal consequences if you keep skipping. Who knows, you might even have fun while you're at it.”
Alvaro snorted. “Doubt it.”
“Look, Al. Why do you think there are only six kids left in your class? Because all the rest of them drifted off to become Pokémon Trainers! The only kids who are still seriously studying are the ones who want to enter really highly qualified jobs. The wannabe doctors and lawyers. You, on the other hand, seem to have no particular aim or goal in life. Unless you're going to contradict me?”
“I . . .” Much to his disgust, Alvaro was speechless.
“Let me put it this way. I think staying at school would be the best thing for your future. There's no denying that. But I know that it would kill you to do it, and I don't want that. Sure, I'll wake you up by pouring cold water over you from time to time, but I actually want to see you happy. I think taking the Gym challenge is the only thing that's left that has the slightest chance of doing that. And it's not the end of your studies, either. You can go back and pick them up afterwards, you know. Most kids do, once the journey wears them out. Only a few stay on to be full-time Pokémon Trainers.”
“I still don't get why you think I'd want to do this,” he said, although he had to admit there was a modicum of truth in her words.
“Because that's your only other option, you lazy bum,” she said, her eyes hard as flint. “You go back to school, or you get a license and go Pokémon Training. I'm giving you a choice here, Al, which is probably more than I should do. Tomorrow's Wednesday. Whatever you say, you're getting up at seven tomorrow, and you're going to one of two places: school, there to stay until you graduate; or the Pokémon Centre, to register as a Trainer. I will hear no argument on this. You can make your decision and inform me of it any time between now and tomorrow morning, but come seven o'clock, you're going. Are we clear?”
Alvaro looked down at his knees, trying not to make eye contact.
“I'll take that as a yes, then. I'll expect your decision by tonight, hopefully.” With that, she stood and strode from the room, taking the empty glass with her.
“Son of a *****,” Alvaro muttered, thumping his fist on the damp mattress.
Ten minutes later, he left the house, fully dressed. He needed time to figure a way out of this. Wandering through the slightly hilly streets of Accumula Town, he swore loudly and colourfully to the winds.
Accumula was as dozy and quiet as ever, he reflected bitterly as he made his way to the main street in hopes of finding something – anything – to distract himself from the uncomfortable position in which he found himself. People were working in the handful of low-rise office buildings that clumped in the middle of town, but there was hardly any traffic. School wouldn't be out for another two hours, but that was no big loss. He didn't really like any of his few remaining schoolmates. That was just another reason not to go to school, incidentally.
“Son of a *****,” he said for about the twentieth time in as many minutes as he wandered into the local park. It wasn't anything much, really: just a small, grassed area with a couple of trees, sandwiched between two properties that walled themselves off with six-foot fences. Nobody in Accumula really saw much need for a park, with the countryside so close.
“You lookin' for something, punk?” a voice growled.
Alvaro looked up, a little incensed at his mental ramblings being interrupted. A young man, not much older than himself, was sprawled on the ancient swingset, leering at him threateningly. He seemed to be quite tall and relatively beefy, and he sported a large metal ring in one ear. Alvaro rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, I was looking for someone with a brain to talk to," he said. "Pity there's none here.” The inflammatory comment probably wasn't necessary, he reflected as the stranger lurched to his feet and strutted towards him, but it had been worth it.
“You wanna ****in' say that again, jerkass?”
“I'd rather not,” Alvaro said. “Unless you're deaf as well as stupid, you heard me the first time.” Noticing the other's hands balling into fists, he shifted his centre of balance slightly.
“You lookin' for a fight, prick? Nobody picks a fight with Carlo and gets away with it. Prick,” he added, apparently as an afterthought.
“Carlo, is it?” Alvaro said, trying to breathe through his mouth. Carlo stank of cigarettes and garbage. “Frankly, yes. If you keep trying to talk to me, I will quite gladly kick the **** out of you. If you leave, you can keep your nose in one piece. Not that that's anything to be proud of.”
Carlo roared and swung his fist, but Alvaro had been expecting the clumsy hook, and he ducked swiftly under the blow. When he straightened up again, Carlo wore an entirely dumbfounded expression on his face. “Wha . . .”
“Let me guess,” Alvaro said cynically. “You're used to fighting dumb ****s too stupid to dodge that first swing, and now that someone's appeared who you can't hit with it, you haven't got a clue what to do. Right?”
“Uh . . .” Carlo grunted.
Alvaro nodded sympathetically. “Yep, I know that feeling. I pity you, honestly I do. It's just that it's been about fifteen years since I was as dumb as you. It's hard to summon up any empathy.” With that, he drew back his fist and punched the befuddled Carlo in the face with a satisfying crack.
The bigger man roared in pain and staggered slightly, but swung another heavy hook in response.
Carlo stepped calmly backwards out of range. “I did warn you about the nose,” Alvaro said mildly, appraising the blood leaking from his opponent's face with a sort of detached interest. “Want to try again, or are you going to leave now?”
“**** you!” Carlo spat, blood bubbling from his dented nose. He charged straight at Alvaro, fists flailing wildly. Alvaro neatly sidestepped him and swept his left leg around in a devastating arc, sending Carlo flying off his feet to land face-down on the concrete footpath that bordered the park.
“Don't make me hurt you any more than I have already!” Alvaro said with a grin. “Frankly, I don't give a damn if you want to come back for some more, but save yourself the embarrassment.”
Growling animalistically, Carlo stood up awkwardly, sending a glance of pure loathing back at Alvaro before limping off. “I won't forget this, prick!” he growled over his shoulder as he left.
“That was fun,” Alvaro reflected, sitting on the recently vacated swing.
“It wasn't very nice, though,” said another voice from the direction in which Carlo had just dragged his pathetic self.
Alvaro looked up to see a girl standing on the pavement, arms folded disapprovingly. She looked to be about his age, with a heart-shaped face and a mass of curly blonde hair that fell past her shoulders. “I wasn't trying to be nice to him,” he told her. “In fact, if I was, I must admit I failed dismally.”
The girl frowned and approached him slowly. “You don't sound like a delinquent,” she said.
“And what makes you think I might be?” he asked innocently.
“Well, I just saw you beat the crap out of some guy for no apparent reason,” she said. “On top of that, you're out here during school time, which means you're probably skipping as you don't look old enough to have graduated. Oh, and you have this general air of 'pissed-off' about you. So on balance, I'd say that makes you one. But like I say, you talk like a smart kid. So I have no idea. What are you, a nerdy delinquent?”
“You talk a lot,” Alvaro grunted. “Yeah, I guess I'm a delinquent. I haven't gone to school in three weeks, and I start fights with punks in public parks for fun. What do you want, chick?”
“I want to figure you out,” she said, doing a little twirl and sitting down on the swing next to his.
He looked at her flatly. “Why the hell do you care?”
“Also, you said you were looking for 'someone with a brain to talk to',” she reminded him, ignoring his question. “I think I qualify.”
“Well, you're a step above that piece of trash just now,” he admitted. “I still don't want to talk to you, though.”
“Oh, come on,” she wheedled. “You've got me all curious now! I want to find out what your problem is, and I'm not going to leave you alone until you tell me.”
Alvaro sighed in exasperation. “Fine. What-the-****-ever. My mom's sick of me sitting around at home, so she gave me a choice. Go back to school for good or get a Trainer's license and take the Gym challenge. Frankly, I couldn't care less for either option, but she's given me till tomorrow morning to make up my mind. Now you see why I'm pissed off?”
“Well, not really,” she said, tapping her chin thoughtfully. “I mean, yes, it explains a lot, but that doesn't sound like much of a choice to me.”
“Oh, really.” Alvaro rolled his eyes. “Tell me, blondie. What would you do, then?”
“I'd do what I've been doing for the last five years,” she said instantly. “Pokémon training.”
Frowning, he looked at her with fresh interest. “You're a Trainer?”
“What did you think these were?” she asked with a small laugh, gesturing to her waist. Her heavy-looking metal belt was studded with six small Poké Balls, just like the one his mother had shown him earlier. They seemed to be held on magnetically – or at least, he couldn't see any other means of attachment. Now that he looked at her, actually, it was obvious. She was dressed practically for travelling: black cargo pants and a green t-shirt in the warm weather, with a white headband keeping her blonde ringlets out of her face.
“You have a point,” he said. “So go on. Sell Pokémon training to me. Mom already tried, but she wasn't very convincing. I honestly have no ****ing clue what I'm going to do, so I'd appreciate it if you could try and sway me one way or the other.” Why was he being so frank with this perfect stranger? Even so, something about her open, smiling face made him instinctively want to talk to her.
“Well,” she said, and Alvaro was struck by a sudden, dreadful feeling that she was enjoying this. “Pokémon training is one of the best experiences you can have, and that's why it's so popular. Something like eighty-seven per cent of kids register before the age of twelve to take the Gym challenge of whatever region they come from.”
“I know all that bull,” Alvaro said, waving a hand dismissively. “Tell me why I should go along with this.”
“Well, for the most part . . . because it's fun. I've been journeying around Unova since I was eleven years old, and it's been amazing! It's not easy, that's for sure, but it's all totally worth it. My Pokémon are my partners and my best friends in the world. I know lots of Trainers say that, to the point where it's kinda cliché, but it's totally true. You form a real bond with your Pokémon when you travel around with them for a few years.”
“Okay, stop, stop,” Alvaro said. “That's disgusting. I don't need friends. I need something that won't bore me out of my mind while I avoid going to school. Is it really that interesting?”
“Absolutely. You'd love it, I think. You seem to like fighting well enough, anyway.”
“I guess that's true,” he admitted.
“How did you get so good at it, anyway? Do you do karate or something? You looked like you knew what you were doing.”
“That's none of your business,” Alvaro grumbled. “Don't you have somewhere to be?”
“As a matter of fact, I do,” the girl said, standing up and stretching. “I've got some shopping to do this afternoon before I get into the Pokémon Centre for a proper rest, ugh. I've been kipping in a sleeping bag every night for a week, so I'm looking forward to a real bed.”
“Then go,” Alvaro said. “Have fun.”
“I will, then. Hey, what's your name, grumpy?”
He was briefly tempted to lie, but there didn't seem to be any point. “It's . . . Alvaro,” he said reluctantly.
“All right. I'll be leaving the Pokémon Centre at eight tomorrow morning. If you do make the right choice, I'll see you before I go. Right, Al?” she said with a wink.
“Sod off,” he said ungraciously. “And don't call me that!”
“You're so grouchy,” she giggled. “All right, bye now!” With that, she practically skipped out of the park, disappearing around the corner before Alvaro could say another word.
Alvaro watched her go with slack-jawed disbelief. Were there really people like her in the world? “What an absolute freak,” he grumbled as he stood up and cricked his neck, feeling the pops as his vertebrae settled. “She was kinda hot, though.”
Still little closer to a solution to his problem, Alvaro left the park and made his way back towards home. He didn't want to be hanging around if Carlo came back with a bunch of friends, which seemed likely. Hitting the big lug had allowed him to blow off some steam, though, for which he was grateful.
“So what do I do?” he asked aloud, though there was – thankfully – nobody around to hear him. “Do I go back to boring-ass school, or do I try something new that could turn out to be really, really terrible?”