Business as usual, chapter not beta-read. Will's backstory is, of course, fanon, but that poor guy has nearly no story at all in the games, so I gave him one. =3 Nothing more to say, I guess. =3
Chapter 8: Incision
Hours later, the three trainers had arrived at the league’s headquarters and since they hadn’t spotted even a tip of Cynthia’s coat yet, they felt safe enough to treat themselves a coffee or a tea respectively at a small café near the building. It was still warm, despite being almost 9 pm, and even better, the stars in the sky above were clearly visible due to the fresh and clean mountain air.
Karen, who had been walking in a rather embarrassing kind of way for the rest of the trip, literally fell onto her chair and gave off a deep sigh. “Finally! Couldn’t walk anymore, seriously...anymore and you might had have to carry me...” Sabrina’s glance was enough to shut her off. For a few seconds at least. That, and she changed the topic, just as Will was getting inside the café to see if there was still some waiter awake.
“I must admit, I wasn’t completely honest when I said that he trusted you completely...” She leaned her head on her right arm, running her other hand through her hair. Sabrina blinked. Karen’s hair seemed almost like liquid silver in the moonlight. She wasn’t ugly at all, the psychic had to admit. It wouldn’t have been such a big surprise if Will had fallen for her. But then, no man really seemed to fall for Karen on his own free will, so one, there was something fishy about the dozens of Karen’s bedtime stories, and second, she seemed to use her mind control more frequently than Sabrina had originally expected it. Karen also looked a lot older than ‘just’ twenty-six, and while it wouldn’t surprise the psychic if the dark trainer had ‘doctored’ her ID a bit in that aspect, assumptions could deceive.
“So? What do you mean?” Sabrina looked to the door of the café, wondering when Will would come back. She could really do with a cup of tea after this stressful day, to fall asleep later easier.
Karen sighed, and looked away, surprisingly not daring to look Sabrina in the eye anymore. “Really, sweetie, I’m not the one to break it to you, but Will has some secrets that you should better get told about, or else your relationship might collapse under its weight.”
Sabrina raised an eyebrow, but didn’t really believe Karen. She had no reason to. She still didn’t feel as if she should trust the woman who had nearly backstabbed her with a reason as stupid as the combined force of the girl’s army that tried to separate her from Will. And it wasn’t as if any secret could really break them apart, was it? After all, she had her secrets, too, and just as she didn’t feel too inclined about telling Will about them, he had the right to stay quiet about his secrets as well. It was fully his decision.
“Heh, didn’t think that they would still be open at this time, but everything’s different in the Indigo Plateau, hehe. You can even go into a café at 9 pm and you won’t get robbed. Not even by the owners!” Will laughed as he sat down with the cups, then suddenly noticed the chilly atmosphere. “Um, something’s wrong?”
Karen looked at him with the slightest hint of a smirk and stood up, taking her cup of midnight black coffee as she did so, placing a note on the table. “5th April 1989.” She paused. “Pay up for me, boy. I’ll leave you two alone.” She silently disappeared into the darkness of the night.
Sabrina raised an eyebrow. She was completely clueless, yet Will...
He had clenched his fist and stood up, staring after Karen. “Hey, wait! How can you...Karen! Wait up! Don’t you dare...this is...” He closed his eyes tightly, snarling unknown words. He had his back to her, so Sabrina couldn’t see her expression, but did she have to guess, she would say that he was angry, deeply angry. But why...?
Then it dawned on her. 5th April 1989 had been the day that...
“...the Pokemon Center of Teak City was robbed by a 14-year old trainer...”
Sabrina gulped. Now it couldn’t be a coincidence anymore. Will was twenty-four, so, ten years ago, he had been fourteen. And the father of said boy was a George Bender...
Will turned around, smiling weakly. “Yeah, George’s my dad...” He whispered, as if answering her thoughts instinctively, sitting down, his head and shoulders hanging as he didn’t dare to look Sabrina into the eyes, staying quiet. He was ashamed, Sabrina could see and feel that, but she wasn’t sure if she should feel sorry for him yet or not.
“But, but...why, Will?!” She stared at him, shaking her head as she did so, not really believing her ears. “I mean...a Pokemon Center of all things!!! Pokemon Centers don’t have anything worth enough to steal, not even enough money! You were a trainer, you had to know that there was nothing! Pokemon Centers have nothing of their own, to rob them is...well, it’s like robbing a baby!” She said, taking a sip of her tea.
Will sighed and fought with words. This was a dark and embarrassing, very embarrassing chapter of his life. He was so ashamed of it that he had actually tried to cover it from Lance, but the head of the league had known about it before actually; as he was in charge of organizing the old documents of the league, so hiding it was of no use anymore. Yet, it seemed to have been nothing too important or criminal in Lance’s eyes, as he hadn’t interrogated him; neither had informed the public about Will’s lapse.
Grimly, the elite trainer decided that he would have gladly taken Lance’s interrogation over that of his girlfriend any day.
“Well.” He paused. He didn’t even know where to start. Truthfully, he had his reasons on why he had tried to rob a Pokemon Center, but he felt that he was not ready to reveal them to Sabrina yet. He didn’t want to drive her off...
Shyly, he looked up at her and managed to bear a small smile. “I was too afraid of robbing a bank, for starters...”
Sabrina rolled her eyes. “Great, genius! As if robbing a bank is so much better...”
Will smiled at this, before his head hang down in shame again. “I know...”
Sabrina waited for a response, but when none came, she sighed deeply. “I’ve noticed that you seem to value money more than many of the other elite trainers, but...was it really so bad?”
He looked up at her. Maybe, just maybe, he could trust her enough to tell, maybe... Will sighed. She was his girlfriend, she deserved to know, and besides, there was no way he could snuggle himself out now. “Yeah, it...kinda was. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen the suburbs of Teak City, but...”
“You mean Teak’s scum ghetto? The one that’s flooded with immigrants?”
Will winced and Sabrina quickly apologized, not knowing that her words would hurt him so much.
The man sighed. “Yeah, exactly that. Though it’s not so full of immigrants anymore, most of them have been there for over fifty years now, so they’re already in the second or third generation, and you can’t really call them immigrants anymore...they’re pretty okay, they even speak our language pretty fluently...aside from the usual accent, that is.” He smiled. “My family’s not one of them, though. Not technically, at least. Been there for over six generations, heh.”
Sabrina took another sip of her tea. “That doesn’t answer my question...” She paused. “Though I have to say, from what I heard about the suburbs...the situation’s there not pretty.”
Will nodded. “Not pretty at all, indeed. You can survive there, of course, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here, heh. But, like I said, absolutely no jobs there, crime’s all around, hygiene’s a foreign word, drugs and alcohol on the other hand are common, children not going to school and instead teaming up in gangs and all that stuff.” He sighed. “I know it all, I’ve been around it, heck, I grew up in the middle of that mess.” He looked to the side. “You can’t get it through to you, though. You have to get used to it, ignore it...otherwise, you’ll get mad. Or you become part of the system, and then, you drown in it. Down and down the spiral, until you’re at the end and dead. I’ve seen people who were happy to get into prison, because there you get a bed and food. And then they get out and die of hunger.” He trembled. “I’ve seen Pokemon used as weapons, drugged Pokemon, pumped with steroids and...awful stuff. ” He could see Sabrina paling, but she tried to keep her calm face, even though the storm raging behind was more than visible. “I didn’t want to be part of that...I wanted to get out. And, surprise, what’s the only way for a young, but poor boy to get out of the ghetto? Pokemon training. Take it seriously, aim for your goal, and train, and train...don’t return home.” He swallowed hard. “Of course, there is the problem of money. Even I did not win every battle, and the money you get from the league’s a joke. Can’t survive off that, and I learned to survive with nearly nothing.” He snorted. “Because that’s what my family had to spare for me. Nothing. I remember being hungry, Sabrina, and my Pokemon do as well. That’s what we were most of the time until I really got the hang of battling and started to win enough money to live a life. Before that...well, I was insane enough to rob a Pokemon Center. Insane, and desperate.” He smiled weakly. “That robbing was actually the first time in four years that I had to contact my family again...the league, or more precisely, Charles Goodshow, fortunately, turned a blind eye when he was told about our misery and the only thing needed to get me out of trouble was an apology letter...” He laughed. “He remembers to this day and I think he still hopes that my siblings turn out as ‘noble’ as me...” Will sighed again. “But I doubt it, as my parents didn’t have the money to support me on my Pokemon journey, and the other eight children will...”
Sabrina spit out the tea she had just drunk.
Will blinked. “Um, yeah...heh...” He sweatdropped. “I didn’t tell you about my siblings, did I?”
Sabrina shook her head, as pale as the moon. “Eight...wait, no...nine children. ...ARE YOUR PARENTS MAD?!?!?”
Will blinked, staring at her, before he broke out with laughter. “They hardly are, Sabrina dear. They hardly are.” He calmed down. “In the society I grew up, having nine children is not an exception.”
Sabrina coughed, fearing that her heart just stopped in shock. “Don’t tell me that’s the average number...”
Will almost spit out his own coffee when he had to laugh again, but stopped himself just in time. “Nah, I suppose the average number is about four or so, but heh...” He sighed. “You’re right, I...grew up in kinda the big family, no?”
“Very big family...” Sabrina mused, thinking of her own parents and how that was all she could call ‘family’.
He sighed. “Might as well give you a few details, eh?” Sabrina didn’t nod, but she looked at him with interest. “All in all, I have five brothers and three sisters. I’m...” He paused to think. “The fifth, I think. Yes, the fifth. Three older brothers, two younger brothers, the twin girls are younger, one sister is older.” He looked up so register Sabrina’s reaction, who had paled again. She still was quiet stunned and knew that it would take her a long time grasping the fact that she would have nearly a dozen brothers and sisters-in-law- taken that she and Will ever got married, she realized with a quick blush. Regularly, it was normal for fiancées to meet the parents and the family of their future husbands, and vice verse of course, but she felt a bit uneasy at that thought...did she really want to meet with some family who lived in poverty? In a ghetto? She was obviously not used to that, while Saffron did have its own kind of ghettos, they were not half as bad as Teak’s, from what she knew. But then...if they had managed to produce such a handsome man like Will, they couldn’t be completely terrible...could they?
Sabrina coughed politely, and Will stopped, yet she did not know what to say. She had the feeling that everything she could say would add salt to the wound, a wound that had not completely closed over, as Will had kept this away from her. It was something very personal, and only now could she understand how much he trusted her when he allowed her to know about his background.
Will smiled silently, before sighing. “No, I don’t know why my parents decided to have so many children, they never told me, heh. I know that they themselves have many siblings, I have about nine uncles and three or four aunts, and I doubt that is even all of them, as I have never met some of them in my whole life. While a lot of them live close, the other part decided to do it my way and get away as far as possible. Dunno what happened to them...” He waited again, but Sabrina stayed quiet, staring at him with a calm, stoic face. It was a bit much for her to take, and she was still trying to grasp it all. “Maybe...” And he leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms behind his head and staring into the starry sky. “Maybe they wanted to even out the gender imbalance in my family. You see, we have way more guys than girls...before my first sister was born, my parents had three boys. And after her...” He started to laugh. “Well, there I came. Another boy. Though probably the most girlish out of all of them, at least in their way of definition. And then, directly after me, my twin sisters. Fits, eh? All the girls in a row...” He laughed hard, while Sabrina took a sip of her tea and raised an eyebrow. She couldn’t completely understand the joke behind, but she assumed that was more because of her natural talent for ignoring humour in all of its forms.
Will stopped laughing for a moment, smiling at Sabrina, before he sighed again, yet his smile stayed. “You know, we have not much space, which is, well, understandable. Not only don’t you get a big house easily in the suburban- especially not if you have a big family, and...oh, well, you might get a house with ten rooms or more, but then, out of them ten, only five are inhabitable. That is, not lethal for anyone living in them. Like the ceiling crushing down on you or Rattata eating your nose off.” He took another sip of his coffee, Sabrina being amazed at how calmly he explained all of that...mess.
“To get to the point, we have a house, but it’s not only my parents and siblings living there, but also some of my uncles and aunts. And their families.” He sighed deeply. “And they don’t have any fewer children. I’ve lost count of my cousins even before I escaped and I guess by now, I got even more...now that I think of it, my youngest brother was four, so by now, I might already have another sibling I do not even know about. Funny, isn’t it?” It was anything but funny.
“And now...everyone needed a bed, right?” His smile returned, to Sabrina’s surprise. “My older brothers are ten, eight and six years older than me, respectively, so of course they got their own rooms. Especially since most of the kids younger than them were girls, so...” He stopped. “Then there’s my sister. She’s three years older than me. And my twin sisters are two years younger than me. Then there’s a gap of five years between them and my second-youngest brother. And my youngest brother is again three years younger than him. So...” He still smiled at her, while Sabrina didn’t feel as if she was really getting it. It only explained to her that his mother at least didn’t have a child every year. Still, having nine children was...insane.
“We had three rooms. Most logically would be three children for every room, right?” He sighed. “Only bad that some of them are so far away from each other, hm? Relatively far away, at least. So my parents had the greatest idea ever...the smallest room, not much bigger than a closet, for my youngest brothers. The second-biggest for my older brothers.”
“Oh.” Sabrina got it and gulped.
“Yes. The biggest one for me and my sisters.” He chuckled. “I was forced to share my room with three girls for eight years. That forms your character, I say. While my brothers played soccer, wandered through forests, got into fights and started with drugs and weapons and Pokemon early, I was forced to listen to lectures about make-up and dresses.” He stopped chuckling, shaking his head. “You see, I was forced to grow into a gentleman. My sisters wouldn’t have allowed anything else. I had to please them or else life would have ended up as a pain in the butt for me. These twelve years taught me more about manners, women and what they want from men than any lifestyle magazine or show could ever have. And after a while, it even ended up as fun. And useful. You see, when people see that you come from the lowest part of society they can imagine, they don’t expect anything from you. They don’t expect you to be gentle and well-mannered and careful, you know? I guess a greater part of my luck and my later reputation comes from that. Besides,” He shrugged. “I like being seen as a noble man now. It something not even Lance really has. He’s the super hero, I’m the gentleman.” He winked at her. “And while I have no numbers, I assume I have just as many fangirls as he has.” Will stopped, taking her hand, lifting it up to his face. “But I was never fascinated by them as I was by you, my dear.”
Sabrina allowed herself to let a blush escape. She was too tired to hide it, besides, she didn’t want to hide it either. Not from him, at least.
Will sighed and leaned back, looked at a clock that was hanging from the wall of the café. “Already ten pm, my dear...we should head off if we want to get into our hotel rooms in time, before they close.” He laughed. “I’m not sure about you, but I certainly don’t want to sleep in the wilderness anymore. Although...” He winked at her. “I admit, I am quite sure that you neither want to sleep on the floor tonight.” Sabrina nodded. To tell the truth, she was very tired. She had fought several hard battles today, one even against her boyfriend, and the emotional torment she had been through was straining her nerves and body. She hadn’t told Will yet about their battle, but she planned on doing so, soon. If possible, tomorrow morning, when she had caught a bit of sleep and felt more at ease and relaxed. Now she just wanted to sleep.
Will got up and yawned, when he suddenly heard some footsteps behind. He turned around, surprised to see Karen move out of the darkness again, as if she hadn’t been away at all. He tensed, suddenly getting the feeling that this might just have been the case and all the time, the dark trainer had been hiding in the shadows and spying on them. He didn’t like that, he didn’t want to have anyone hear his story that detailed, neither did he want to see someone share gossip about it. Karen was the least likely to do that, though.
“Don’t worry, Will, I’ve heard nothing new.” Karen answered his thoughts, coming closer and touching his cheek with one of her over dimensional finger nails. Will shivered, her nails were cold like ice. Sabrina, on the other hand, was too tired to torture Karen’s reproduction organs again, so she just glared at her. “All you’ve said is old stuff for me, as I already got to know that from yourself when you were under my control.” Will felt the urge to ram his leg into inappropriate regions himself. “Never mind, I’ve got some...news for you.” Both tensed, as they still knew that Cynthia was around and they knew she could be up to something, and most likely was.
“I’m incredible sorry about what I caused...”
Will and Sabrina stared at each other, mesmerized that they had said the same thing at the same time.
Karen coughed. “I AM. And therefore...” She snickered. “You know, Will and I share a hotel room. I, heh, decided to quit my room for tonight and trade it with Sabrina.”
“What?” Aforementioned woman blurted out, not believing what she had just heard. No one had told her about this, it was...
Karen nodded. “Yes, sweety, you’ll have the chance to sleep with your honey tonight. It’s up to you what you make out of it, heh. You can take me literally, if you want to...” Sabrina was again too tired to hide the blush. Was she really ready to think about it, even? She didn’t want to risk her relationship; neither did she want to rush it. She felt uncomfortable, and wondered why, when it was almost well-known that she had already slept in the same bed as him.
“But, but...” She tried, her voice quavering. “I never agreed to this!”
Karen smiled. “I know, but the hotel manager and Lance already did, so it’s not as if you have any chance...”
Sabrina knew that there was no chance to argue with that, so she turned to Will, snarling. “You’re going to sleep on the couch, understood?”
“We have no couch...”
“Then the ground, whatever!” The psychic gym leader whined, turning away from the two, while Will and his aching back prayed that she wasn’t being serious...
Not even a mile away from them, a lonely woman sat in her hotel room on a lonely, slightly uncomfortable chair made out of reed that crunched with every move she made. She had already put a cushion underneath her as to make the chair at least a bit softer, for she knew she was going to sit in it for several hours, probably the whole night. The man behind her slept with a quiet snore coming from him. She couldn’t help but glance and smirk at him. She was going to like the sight he would be once he woke up and the league would laugh over it, too. She just had to make sure that the stilettos would stay on, but there was nothing a small speck of glue couldn’t fix.
Turning back, she pushed a longer strand of pale, blond hair out of her face, her grey night dress rustled, barely hiding her silky skin. Pushing the button on a black plastic remote control, she watched the small TV set in her room flickering to life. The screen gave off an eerie, ghostly, silvery light, enlightening her face and chest, revealing that underneath the night dress, she wore nothing. She wasn’t cold, for coldness was close to her element, and the spring was coming to an end, so the nights were getting warmer and warmer.
Cynthia closed her eyes as the video recorder gave off a quiet click and the video tape started to play again. The pictures weren’t as blurry and black and white as the security camera videos back in Sinnoh’s league headquarters she was used to, a sign that J really made use of the newest technology. She liked that, she didn’t expect anything lower from her associates, and J was one of the few she got along. Kind of.
Cynthia bit her lip as she saw what she had expected to see deep inside her heart, but had never wanted to see, consciously at least. It hurt her, her morality, her beliefs, her way of living, to some extent.
She had known that the other darkling, Karen, had put some spell on the psychic elite trainer. Now, Cynthia didn’t know what the reason was, neither did she really want to. It didn’t concern her, her plans didn’t clash with Karen’s so far. But still, she had watched the events, or rather, she was watching the events on J’s airship via the security videos she had gathered from one of J’s henchmen. She didn’t know why, she didn’t know a lot of her quirks and sometimes, she was confused by her own acting and doings, but what she did know was that she had to find out how this had played out. And why Sabrina had, in the end, forgiven her boyfriend.
This was something that had really stunned Cynthia. Stunned to the point that she thought the other woman crazy. If there was one thing Cynthia would never do- or at least one thing she had thought she would never do, it was forgiving the person that had hurt and betrayed her. But Sabrina had. She had even fought against, and for, her boyfriend, had risked injuries and psychical pain, just to get him back.
Cynthia flinched. It annoyed her, annoyed her to the point that she wanted to lash out and destroy the interior, that she wanted to...strangle something. She hated to see a fellow woman being treated like this, but now, she had the feeling that Sabrina wouldn’t feel the same way. After all, the one she had physically hurt in the end (in a way Cynthia could only snicker about) was Karen, her fellow ‘sister’. Yet, Karen was the one who had made Will cause her pain, so...was Will at fault? If Cynthia had to be honest, that was a question she couldn’t answer without feeling her stomach churn, a sign that she knew deep inside she was wrong, but wasn’t willing to show it openly. Or admit it to herself. She had always thought that she was the mistress of right and wrong, of laws and rules, as she had made the rules herself as long as she was the league champion, the true ruler and empress. But there was a level above her, a level she felt she could not simply reach. The level of true and honest emotions, and of forgiving was not opening its gates for everyone. For to truly forgive someone and overcome your own emotions, you had to be more than just a champion.
Cynthia sighed, turning off the TV and leaning back in the chair, staring at the now pitch black ceiling. She didn’t really know why, but she had the feeling that she had to forgive someone herself.
She had been wrong, and now she felt lonely. It probably was the price she had to pay for being wrong, she guessed. Sabrina now wasn’t lonely, and although her boyfriend had done things that were a lot more disgraceful, she had lived through it. And she, Cynthia, had dumped Lucian because of a forgotten date and her big ego. She was pathetic, wasn’t she?
Even if he was more at fault than Will, he should have been given a chance. Or she should have at least tried to talk with him about it. Had she talked to him, he wouldn’t have drunk until he was nearly poisoned by it and her league wouldn’t have a clown story of its own. Never mind that she had planned on corrupting Indigo’s league, that had been her little amusement for the time being, although it seemed small and unimportant right now, too. Tiny compared to the real matters of life.
Cynthia closed her eyes and when she opened them again, a transparent, black mist escaped her eyes, touching Lance and engulfing his face. The female champion turned around, her expression serious, yet with a frown. She waited. He stayed asleep. Cynthia relaxed and stood up, dropping her night dress as she did so, and then slowly slipping into the warmness of the bed, her fingers tracing Lance’s muscular chest. It was going to be their last night. A term Cynthia felt would also soon apply to the other new couple of the league, but unlike her and Lance, the dark psychic knew that they would always come back to each other. Their relationship was something special.
Listening to Lance’s calm breaths, Cynthia relaxed, imagining that the one beside her was Lucian, his silky, wavy hair tingling her nose, as he continued to read his books until noon, when she had already fallen asleep long ago. He would give her a small kiss on the forehead, as to not wake her up, stroke her hair and turn off the light, then fall asleep next to her as well, his hand still on her cheek.
With a sigh, Cynthia let herself fall into the lands of dreams, her last thought being that she had to make an important visit to a certain someone tomorrow.
End of Chapter 8, one more to go. =3