The continent’s strongest Pokémon master does not take the Champion’s chair. Instead, he stands at the highest point on the highest mountain, as a god watching over mortals. What is the reason for his absence, for his silence?
Some of you may recognize the title. Yes, it is indeed a REBUILD of a one-shot I released several months back – hence the name. I’ve expanded upon it and decided to turn it into a short, three-chapter novella, since an ellipsis usually consists of three dots. If I had to put it down to a rating, it’d probably be PG. There’s an occurrence or two of mild language and, thematically, it’s a bit dark, but certainly nothing your average sixth-grader wouldn’t be able to handle.
DISCLAIMER 1: I don’t own Pokémon. All of these characters are the property of Game Freak, Satoshi Tajiri, Creatures, Inc., or whoever it is. But not me.
DISCLAIMER 2: This one-shot is based loosely on the game verse with the one difference being that both player characters from FR/LG existed instead of one overwriting the other into the ether. It is not a novelization of the games by any stretch, just one author’s interpretation on what might have or could have happened.
This is not remotely based on any of my work with the Pokémon Revolution series (although I encourage you to read them if you get the chance and like what you see here). It is completely separate and independent – something I did because I wanted to branch out a little.
Also, for those of you that haven’t read any of the Pokémon Revolution series (which consists of two completed fics and a third one currently on hiatus) and like this story but are understandably a little bit intimidated by the prospect of catching up on that much material, I encourage you – as well as any current or former readers of PR – to be on the lookout for The Age of Harmony, my new journey fic that is set to release on September 1.
Now, without further ado, I give you:
. . . . .
. . . . .
Dot I: ENDURE
“Johnny, I don’t think we should be here…”
“Relax. Nobody’s used this old track in years. Grandpa told me so. He’d know, too. He’s been around forever.”
A woman sitting at the table of this small house gave a slight start, snapping out of her ennui-induced daze. She glanced at the television. Four children – two boys, two girls – were walking in single file along an old, rickety-looking train track. She let out a nostalgic sigh. This was the same film…the same one that had been playing on that spring morning…
Suddenly aware of the sound, the woman stood. Dark-haired, unassuming, somewhat short, she was somewhere in her mid-thirties – not yet old enough to be considered middle-aged, but yet too close to middle age to be considered young anymore. Her face was plain but not ugly. In fact, if not for an extra line or two from the constant weight of worry, she might have even been called beautiful.
She could have doctored the blemishes, dolled up her face with a small layer of makeup – if she cared enough, that is. Beauty, though, like many other things in life, was fleeting. Besides, she had already fallen in love, borne a son, and had made her life in a place where eligible bachelors were few and far between. She no longer had anyone to impress. Honestly, trying to delay the inevitable was a venture of fools.
That was what she’d told herself over and over again in the days leading up to that one. She had known for years. Ever since he had laid eyes on his first stuffed Pokémon toy as a young child, ever since she saw those big, brown toddler eyes light up with delight and excitement, she had known.
She had not seen the boy’s father in person in years. It hadn’t been a particularly long relationship; she was young, in love, and (at the risk of sounding redundant) honestly a bit of a fool. That was not to say that their love was not genuine. There was simply not much planning involved. Nonetheless, she found herself pregnant with his child – their child. He was not like other young men; she could at least credit him for that. When he left shortly after their hasty, thrown-together wedding, and their son’s birth, it was to find work good enough to support the family. He wrote to her fairly often, and it was through those letters and the pictures around the home that the boy got to meet his father.
Could she honestly say that she still loved a man who she had not seen in a decade? Probably not...but there was no ill will, either. She knew he had not been lying. It had been mostly his money that allowed her and their son to live comfortably in a house in a small, quiet town. By the time he was able to support them, though, he felt like moving back would only complicate things. The boy was nearly school-age, and he and his mother had already put together a life in that town – a life where they had become accustomed to his absence. So they divorced, as remotely and as amicably as a couple possibly could do. He seemed confident that the boy would find him if the need ever arose. She agreed. After all, he may have been raised by his mother, but he was his father’s son, through and through. The boy loved Pokémon and dreamed of one day becoming a Trainer, just like his father had been. He often came to her recounting vivid dreams of battling and capturing the rare, legendary Pokémon of the world. She would laugh diplomatically, wondering all the while whether those dreams would one day become reality.
Yes, she had known; for nearly his entire life, she had known that the day was coming – but as it drew ever closer, she found herself unprepared. She found herself wishing that time would slow down, or maybe even stop. The wild-wishing part of her soul wanted nothing more than that February the twenty-eighth would repeat ad infinitum…or at least as many times as it took her to finally prepare herself for that goodbye.
But, alas, time marched on. February turned into March, the start of spring…the day the gyms of Kanto opened their doors after the winter hiatus, and the traditional day that first-time Trainers were sent off on their journeys. Even on that morning, as her ten-year-old baby boy roused her from bed (for so many years, it had been the other way around), her mind had been racing, thinking up any excuse or argument it could invent to convince him to stay just one more year…
Just one more month…
Just one more day.
It was on that day that she learned something important about herself – and about mothers in general. The motherly instinct, born out of the noblest desire to guard and protect one’s children from harm, could easily warp itself into something self-serving. No good mother wants to see her children hurt, and when they are, she shares in that pain. The natural human reflex is to avoid pain.
But as the old Professor placed that sphere in the boy’s hand, as he opened it to reveal his new, yellow-furred, mousy companion and the two stared at each other with eyes brighter than stars, she realized it. She was not avoiding his pain. She was avoiding her own.
That was why she had to let him go.
When did she know she had made the right decision? It may have been about a week or two after that. That was the day she got her first call from him. She had told him to call back every day that he could – probably knowing deep down that he wouldn’t. That day, though, he did:
“Mom! Mom! Guess what happened?” His voice, a bit garbled over the phone, sounded excitable and youthful. “I’m in Pewter City! I battled Brock and I won! It was tough. Pikachu’s attacks didn’t affect his Pokémon. Lucky I caught another Pokémon, though! It was a Nidoran. You know, the one with the big horn? His Double Kick totally kicked Brock’s –”
“Hey, hey. Watch your mouth. You don’t want me to have to come up there and bring you back home, do you?” It was an empty threat. First off, she knew he didn’t really mean any harm. His exuberance had just gotten the best of him. Actually, she couldn’t help but smile. His first badge. His first badge! Not that she expected anything less…but, still…his first badge! She was so proud that she could burst.
He would call after every badge win. His second time around, he hadn’t been nearly as over the moon with excitement – perhaps because it hadn’t been much of a fight. By the time he had made that call, he’d come into possession of a Bulbasaur. She had to smile again; apparently he had fortune on his side as well. Professor Oak only gave out one Bulbasaur a year, if that, to a child for whom he had high hopes as a Trainer. Her son, as good as he was, hadn’t been that child. But still, one of those rare Pokémon had found its way to him.
She could sense his voice hardening as he rattled off the next several gyms. His growing experience was audible. He no longer hoped to win; he expected it. So the call she received from Saffron was particularly jarring. The Gym Leader there had given him a lot of trouble. He was as angry as she’d ever heard him, muttering about something to do with teleporting. It didn’t make any sense to her, and he never called back to explain it. In fact, she didn’t hear much of anything from him until several months later.
“Hey, mom.” He sounded older, which confused her. Even though he had turned eleven since they had last spoken, an eleven-year-old’s voice didn’t change that much, did it?
“Where are you, sweetie?”
“Viridian City. I just beat Giovanni for the Earth Badge,” he answered.
“That’s nice – Giovanni?!” Her voice raised in horror as the name clicked in her brain. Surely it couldn’t have been…not that man? Not the international criminal? What in the name of whatever gods there be was her son – her baby boy – doing matching strength with a man like that?
“I know…it’s complicated,” her son said heavily, now sounding much, much older. This caused her to worry at once. Exactly what had her boy seen? “I’ll explain it to you when I get there.”
She felt her eyes mist over as the realization hit her. “You’re coming…home?”
“Yeah, for a bit,” he replied. “I was headed to the Indigo Plateau to take on the Elite Four, but I thought I’d come back and visit…you know, sleep in my own bed for once. That’s…that’s okay, right?”
She nearly lost it right there on the phone. He sounded so, so much older, but that last question…it was like he was a six-year-old kid again, asking Mommy for sweets.
“O-of course, dear…” she said in a cracked whisper, wiping her eyes about once every other second. “You can always come home. I’ll have your bed made and waiting for you.”
“Thanks. See you tomorrow,” he said.
When he finally arrived the next morning, she was waiting at the grassy field right at the edge of town, and hugged him so hard she might have broken some of his ribs. They talked into the night – about the places he had seen, the Pokémon he had met and caught…and her worst fears were confirmed. He’d had run-ins – several of them, in fact – with Giovanni’s crew, a notorious crime syndicate known simply as “Team Rocket.” It was with a grimly casual tone of voice that he described these encounters, all of which had ended in his victory.
Naturally, her first reaction was to attempt to scold him; after all, it was the job of the police to handle crime of this magnitude. In no way at all should that task have ever fallen to a child – let alone her child. But the way he told it, he had simply happened upon their activity the first time. In fact, it sounded like he was trying to say that, at least initially, the villainous group had simply been in his way.
“But all of that’s over now,” he had said simply, ending his explanation.
Still, she wished he would have told her. She felt like it was her right to know what was happening with her son – and the fact that she no longer knew everything was the part about his growing up that scared her the most.
“Ms. Scarlett, are you there?” a female voice yelled.
“Coming!” the dark-haired woman replied loudly. It hurt her to talk that loudly. She was always soft-spoken, ever since she could remember. But over the last year or two, she had found herself speaking less and less – mainly because there were fewer people left to talk to her.
She approached the door, twisted the lock open, and then opened the door itself. Standing in her doorway – a doorway that was dripping with the rain water of a particularly heavy thundershower – was a tall young woman, about twenty-one or twenty-two, if the older woman remembered correctly. She was wearing a hooded, azure raincoat and seemed to be carrying a large bag. Immediately, Scarlett stepped aside and let her in.
“Make yourself at home,” she said to the younger lady, who made for the home’s small but pristine kitchen, where she put her belongings on the counter near the sink. “How are you?”
“Wet,” the young woman replied disapprovingly, removing her hood and showing off a head of long, light brown hair. “It’s been raining buckets out there all afternoon – and to make matters worse, the shopping center didn’t have what I was looking for, so I actually had to go all the way up to Viridian, stay there the night, and come back…”
“That’s horrible,” Scarlett said empathetically. “You’re feeling okay, right? Not sick?”
The young woman turned around and smiled. “No, Ms. Scarlett, I’m fine. How are you doing? Are you enjoying your birthday?”
Scarlett’s heart and stomach did a strange dance within her. She turned thirty-five today. She had completely forgotten.
“As much as I can with this weather, I guess,” she answered. “It seems like it’s been ages since I’ve seen you.”
“Well, I’m just across the street,” the young woman answered with a smile, rummaging through her bag and pulling out two mugs that clanked against each other as she removed them. “You should come and visit sometime.”
“Oh, no, I couldn’t impose.” Scarlett gave her younger counterpart a good-natured smile. “How’s your grandfather?”
“I guess he’s alright – he’s been a bit down lately,” the young brunette answered, pulling out a larger box and bringing it to the table where Scarlett had been sitting minutes before. “He can’t travel as much as he used. Age is really starting to catch up with him.”
“Hmm,” uttered Scarlett somberly. “And your brother?”
“Busy as usual,” the young woman intoned. “It’s getting to be that time of year again, you know…he says he’ll come down at some point and visit, but he never has.”
“I…know how that feels,” Scarlett said, the plastic smile she wore belying the morose tone in her voice.
There was a pregnant pause in the conversation.
“Has he called?” the young woman asked delicately. “Sent a gift? A letter?”
Scarlett shook her head. “Nothing. For almost a year now, nothing…”
A lump formed in her throat. He always used to give her a hand-made card for her birthday, ever since he learned the first thing about writing and drawing. They’d never be on display in an art museum, but that didn’t matter at all to her. They were from him.
“I’m proud of everything he’s done,” Scarlett said. “But…I miss him so.”
“Maybe he’ll come through that door one day,” said the young woman. “I used to think my brother would never grow out of his ‘brat’ phase. Now he’s one of the strongest Trainers in Kanto. So, you just have to keep on hoping, I guess…do you want some tea?”
Scarlett smiled and tried to put her lonesomeness from her mind, at least for these few moments.
“Yes, Daisy. I think I’d like that.”
~~~ *** ~~~ *** ~~~
The plan is to release one of these chapters every week for the remainder of the month – preferably on Monday. So the next one should be up on the 20th of the month.
So did you enjoy? Did you hate it? Is it too early to tell? Don’t hesitate to make your opinions known! And definitely don’t hesitate to tell me if my grammar or spelling’s sketchy somewhere. I’ll be back fairly soon to dialogue with you all about your responses. Happy reading!