She turned out to be a lot better than he thought. Prejudiced thoughts of her being a spoiled rich kid and a girl to boot were quickly erased from his mind the second she released her pokemon – a squirtle – and apparently knew her shit.
Can't think blindly, Shaun scolded himself, gritting his teeth as a blast of water rushed towards his pokemon. Memories of his home town rushed through his mind. Scattered thoughts of kids who thought too much of themselves were only screwed over in the end. He would know, considering he had screwed over a lot of arrogant fuckers in his little home under the bridge.
"Can't you avoid that shit!" Shaun snarled spitefully at his pokemon as the blast hit true, sopping Riolu from head to toe. "You got past a fucking rampaging rock beast, didn't you?"
Riolu narrowed his red eyes, lip curled and growled angrily at his trainer. With a displeased huff he shook himself, wet fur standing on end. His human had a point. This should be child's play. With a small woof, energy began to form between his paws.
Shaun grinned. "That's it," he encouraged his pokemon, only to falter as the three trainers gasped in shock. They were looking at Riolu in disbelief. He frowned, puzzled at their apparent awe and incredulity.
Riolu, who had been waiting for a command, huffed in exasperation. Long muscular legs bent and soon he was flying high, body arching elegantly so that he was soon upside down and gaze upon the on looking water turtle. With a wide grin that made the water pokemon's eyes widen, Riolu let out a loud bark like laugh and launched the attack.
Blue energy charged forward, its ball form retaining its shape the entire way before it hit true, sending the opponent flat on its stomach with a weak groan, bruises covering its head. "Squuir," the water turtle moaned, gritting its teeth before quickly rolling out of the way just as Riolu finished his brief flight and attempted to slam his foot where the squirtle had lain mere seconds ago. The force created a small dent in the ground.
Shaun grinned widely. "Nice," he allowed, truly meaning it. The display had been nothing if not cool.
Riolu grinned smugly and raised his palms into a lax fighting position, obviously finding the opponent lacking. "Ri," he said snootily, getting a growl in return from both trainer and pokemon.
The girl glared at Shaun before allowing her features to soften. "I guess you're better than we all initially thought," she allowed. "That doesn't mean anything in a real trainer battle, however! Cannon, Aqua Jet!"
The nicknamed turtle jumped high, head, arms, legs and tail quickly retreating into the confines of its shell before its entire body was engulfed in a swirling cyclone of water. The squirtle, Cannon, took off like a jet, or perhaps like its namesake, and was suddenly covering the distance between itself and Riolu in seconds.
"Watch out!" Shaun called, grimacing and scolding himself mentally. Watch out? Was that the best he could do? He wasn't some snot nosed ten year old. But it was too late. Faster than the small dog pokemon could follow, Riolu was soon hunched over, body stiff and wheezing breathlessly from the hardened shell that had slammed right into its gut. Black toes dug at the ground as Riolu fought against churning water that was still trying to push him back. The water surrounding Cannon began to trickle away, and soon a blue face was becoming visible. Shaun took that chance. "Punch it in the face!" he shouted, reverting back to his uneducated commands.
A glimmer of amusement flashed for a brief moment on Riolu's features before it cooled into a look of deep concentration. Looking as if he still couldn't breathe or even move, Riolu all but flung the right side of his body so that his fist went flying. With a crack that had everyone wincing, Cannon was staggering back with a howl of pain. Finger clutching a bloody nose, the tiny turtle landed on its rear and glared heatedly. It would have been threatening if it didn't have blood rushing down its face. Or look like a baby turtle.
"Alright, alright!" the girl called, waving her arms in a gesture of defeat. She looked more than a little exasperated but had an amused grin as she recalled her pokemon. "Not bad," she said grudgingly, handing over the promised bet of 100. "I should have expected that sort of dirty tactic after watching your first battle."
Shaun huffed. "All that matters is winning," he said with a shrug. Riolu sauntered forward, pausing to look up at Shaun with a smug expression, and then getting on all fours and shaking vigorously. Water flew everywhere, most of it getting onto Shaun, and Riolu stood back up with a woof of hilarity, fur now standing on end. "Yea, screw you too," Shaun muttered, nose scrunched.
The girl giggled. "You have a cute pokemon," she said nicely before her features turned serious. "I've never heard of a riolu knowing Aura Sphere, though…" She trailed off, eyes glancing between trainer and pokemon with a hint of suspicion.
Shaun frowned at the look. "Why?" he demanded. He was sick of all the awe and shock coming from people just because of an attack.
The girl pulled some of her brown hair behind her hair as she gazed at Riolu with open curiosity. The blue and black hound was giving her a displeased look, obviously annoyed by the attention. "Only their evolved forms are capable of learning Aura Sphere," she informed Shaun, gaze swiveling up to his. She smiled charmingly, eyes studying his form.
Shaun straightened, knowing a look like that. He had used it on others when he had checked out the opposite sex, though Shaun would admit he leered a tad bit more than he should. "I guess that makes the little guy special," he said with a low croon, latching onto that bit of knowledge that all Kantoeons seemed to be obsessed with coddling pokemon with lovey gooey words. Riolu glanced up at him and snorted. With an eye roll he moved away and continued to shake himself dry. "That squirtle of yours was quite the battler as well." Yea, he was laying it on a bit thick, but only people that new him would know that.
The girl preened at the praise. "Isn't she? I was so lucky to get a water type – that's my favorite type, you know – and she was a great help on the first route." She was speaking a bit fast, a hint of a blush on her cheeks. "Your landscape is so different from ours," she continued, gesturing at the two boys that were watching them warily. "We're from Kanto by the way," she added unnecessarily.
Shaun almost rolled his eyes. With that pale skin and accent? No shit, bitch. "So I've heard." He kept his voice soft and deep, pose cool and relaxed as he gave her a pleasant smirk. "Wanna go somewhere? Maybe you can tell me all about Kanto?" Or start making out.
"Sarah," one of the boys barked. He had short blond hair that had been stylized recently, though it was obvious from the week out in the wild he hadn't kept it maintained. He scratched at an unshaved cheek agitatedly and gave Shaun a sour look. "We need to head off now if we wanna make decent time on the next route."
Sarah's gaze snapped to her traveling companion, looking a tad rushed. "Fine, fine." She waved off the other boy irritably before flashing Shaun a cute smile. "See you later, maybe?"
Shaun hid a disappointed frown and nodded once. "Yea, sure, probably." Goodbye, quick lay.
With a quick wave, Sarah and the two other trainers were walking away, towards the end of the city where a path would take them first to a wide open plain, also known as Grassy Plains, which quickly became a land of multiple high cliffs and deep canyons. Shaun watched them go, a slight scowl of disappoint and jealousy. He wouldn't have minded a quick alley way fuckand given all that he had gone through he more than deserved it. Also, considering that they were already leaving the city they must have already defeated the gym leader.
"Smooth," a voice crooned mockingly, startling Shaun out of this daydreaming. He turned around, jolted, and scowled at the grinning Alex. "She wouldn't have given you anything that you would have wanted, anyway."
"No idea what you're talkin' about," Shaun grumbled, shoving his fists into his pockets.
"Uh huh." The tone is disbelieving.
Shaun rolled his eyes, allowing a good natured smile to appear. "Alright, fine," he amended. "I honestly don't get how dudes would wanna go out into the wilderness for months or whatnot and not get any cloyster."
Alex gave a snort.
Riolu, who had finished shaking himself dry, sauntered over to Shaun's side and stared down with a haughty glare at the red and orange fire chick. The torchic chirped a greeting but Riolu only huffed and turned his head away, obviously still miffed about his first lost.
"I see the pokemon is beginning to act like the trainer." The amusement was evident.
Shaun frowned, eyes darting down to his starter. "Whatever," he said with a shrug before turning on the other boy. "Whaddya want?" The pleasantness had once more disappeared now that Shaun's attitude made yet another appearance.
Alex gave Shaun a hard stare, no longer startled by the others harsh tone. He gave a shrug. "I don't know," he admitted. Taken aback by the boys' bluntness, Shaun shuffled a bit awkwardly, no longer sure what to say. Alex sighed, sensing the others unease. "Sorry," he said carefully, "I'm still a bit out of it."
Shaun nodded. He was still a bit shaken himself, though he wouldn't dare admit it out loud. "An attack like that has never happened before." He didn't have to go into detail. Alex knew what he was talking about. "At least, not in this region."
That was true. For some reason it was only the major, well known regions that were being attacked by what appeared to be legendary beasts. Lenore was a lesser known region, though news could still travel to the other regions, but this was the first time a major catastrophe had truly struck it. What luck it was for both Shaun and Alex to be there when it happened, not even a month into their training.
Alex still felt a little sick from last night. The shuppet had filled the air with a mixture of poisonous toxins and depressive energies. He just wanted out of this city, away from the subdued people and the occasional street that was cut off from the destruction. He didn't come here for this; he came here to have an ordinary journey.
Ordinary journey, Alex thought mockingly. Hah! No, that wasn't it; in fact, that was farthest from the truth. Did he want a challenging journey? Damn straight he did. Did he want to be involved with this strange war that seemed to be popping up every time a creature of legend of popped up? Hell no.
"Yea, I know," Alex said softly, silver eyes drifting.
Shaun studied the other trainer, mind whirling. "You've seen something like this before, haven't you?" It was really hard to keep the accusation from his tone.
Alex didn't even bother to hide his flinch and fixed Shaun with a cold glare. "If you must know, yes. It's not exactly something I like to think about."
Whatever Shaun was about to say died. He shrugged, looking uncaring, but the harsh tone and bitter glare was like a slap in the face. It wasn't something he had ever expected from the other boy. "So what now, then?" Shaun muttered, hazel eyes meeting silver, challenging.
"Just keep going."
And it really was as simple as that. Just keep going or lose all purpose. A crooked smile that spoke of irony broke out on Shaun's face. Stop now and become a prisoner, yet if he kept going, was he not a prisoner of the system that wanted him in this position?
"Battle me," Shaun said suddenly, breaking the thoughtful silence.
Alex jerked at the command and looked uncomprehendingly at the other. "What?" He was bewildered, not expecting the rebellious being to ever issue such a command so suddenly. Where was the boy that fought tooth and nail to not even be a trainer mere days ago?
"You heard me." There was a growl to his tone and even the riolu seemed riled by its trainer's words. It was already shifting, getting ready.
Slowly, Alex grinned. Their eyes met, each daring the other to back down, and without even bothering to officially agree or issue the terms of battle, they ordered as one.
Energy seemed to come to life as the two pocket monsters sprang into action. Their eyes were alight with the thrill of battle as they jumped away, bodies already aligning into battle positions. They eyed one another, tension merging with the energy already intoxicating their bodies.
And then they struck.
Fire erupted from the tiny chick's beak like a fountain of flames. Embers sizzled through the air, sending a wave of warmth to even those that were beginning to surround the battle, eager to see which pokemon would win. The burning fire balls were nearly upon Riolu, yet the aura pokemon remained still, calm. When the attack was close enough to make the air almost unbearable Riolu bent slightly, a wild smirk appearing on his muzzle that was an almost exact portrayal of his trainer, and jumped.
Shaun and Alex watched, Alex a bit more awed. Shaun was used to the high jumps his tiny pokemon could perform and simply grinned, teeth nearly grinding. "Aura Sphere!" he barked.
Midair, Riolu began to arc like he had done with his battle against the squirtle, and aimed from an upside down point of view. Energy formed between his palms and blue gave off rays of light from between his fingers before it was aimed and fired like a bullet.
"Stand your ground!" Alex barked, body tense as he observed with a ferocious intensity.
Shaun's head snapped in his rival's direction, confusion evident. He frowned, quickly turning back to the incoming sphere of energy. Why on earth would he have his pokemon just stand there? Torchic seemed to have no qualms about obeying his trainer's wishes and was standing completely still, head raised and tilted to watch its impending doom. The Aura Sphere was now literally mere feet away.
"Dodge!" Alex cried, having waited for the last second.
"The second you land, arc your body and punch it out!" Shaun snarled, ignoring the other. He had to focus on his own pokemon, but why on earth had the other trainer waited so long?
"Torr!" the fire chick cried. Its talons had been bent in anticipation, and the second its trainer issued the command Torchic sprang. The Aura Sphere, having been so close to the target, slammed straight into the ground, creating a large dust cloud as Torchic got his bearings, only to yelp as Riolu, doing as his trainer wished, landed on light feet and spun. Riolu's blue fist slammed straight into Torchic's gut, sending him skidding back, completely breathless.
Alex grumbled lowly. "Your methods…" He shook his head before refocusing. "Peck!"
Torchic glared with one eye, the other closed from his wince and gave a grunt of confirmation. He poised his beak, preparing to strike, only to shriek as Riolu didn't even bother to wait for his trainer's next command and slammed his palm into the fire bird's face. Once more he staggered back, completely enraged. "Chick tor!" Torchic roared, infuriated. This time he was the one to not bother waiting for his trainer's command. Beak wide open, flames blast at Riolu.
"Lu!" Riolu yelped, eyes wide and arms flailing as he tried to stagger back in shock. The attack was too close for the aura dog to get out of the way and fire began to burn away his fur and skin. A howl of pain erupted from his muzzle, body hunching into itself from the pain.
Shaun grimaced. "Another Aura Sphe—"
"Scratch!" Alex yelled loudly, overriding Shaun's command.
The dark haired teen shot his rival a venomous glare. "Aura Sphere!"
Alex gave Shaun an equally spiteful look. "Think you can come up with any other attack?" he snapped mockingly.
"Suck my dick," Shaun shot back.
Blue energy was already forming in Riolu's palms, a half lidded glare forming as he took in his fast approaching opponent. He sneered, black appendages twitching as he felt the barest of emotional sensations rushing through his mind. Must his trainer always be so angry? With a roar that matched his trainer's anger, Riolu aimed his palms forward, releasing his energy – only to nearly fall over in shock.
"What the hell was that!?" Shaun bellow, watching in disbelief as the attack grew dim and simmered out. "I thought you were over that!"
"Rio riolu ri!" Riolu barked in agitation, nearly spitting in anger at his trainer.
"Yea, screw you too!" Shaun roared, sneering at his pokemon. Riolu, forgetting or even not caring about his opponent anymore, marched away from the battle and got as far up in his trainers face as possible, given the height difference.
"Lu ri uli!" Riolu snarled, waving his arms in exasperation as if to say 'why the hell don't you do it, then?'
Not being one to back down Shaun bent his upper body and all but smashed his face into Riolu's, condescending sneer in place. "You fight a giant rock monster but you can't even beat a tiny chicken!"
They both ignored Torchic's indignant cry in the background.
Riolu threw his arms into the air, exasperation evident. How many times would the arrogant teen bring that up? "Luu!" Riolu howled, palm shoving Shaun's face away. He was so over this!
"Uh, you do know we're still battling, right?" Alex's voice broke their fight and the two blinked stupidly at him. Torchic was standing by his side, glowing a bright yellow for a brief moment as he took a deep breath.
The two glared at him.
"Just get back in there," Shaun spat, moody and suddenly re-remembering just exactly why he didn't want to become a pokemon trainer. Riolu glanced back up at his trainer and promptly spat at his feet, a gesture he had seen humans do on several occasions to those they loathed. The crowd surrounding them erupted into roars of laughter, though that wasn't what made Riolu smirk. It was the look on his trainers face. "Did you see what the little bastard did?" He was incredulous, but as Riolu's black appendages twitched he realized, with great confusion, that his trainer was also impressed.
Alex just stared at them, awe and incredulity written as clear as day on his features. Why was he continually intrigued by the absurdity of this person? He was just too absurd to be taken seriously. He was fighting with his pokemon in the middle of battle for Mew's sake – and yet here he was! Still somewhat in the lead in terms of battle! Torchic was looking a bit more wear for ware than his opponent.
"Torchic, Scratch!" Alex ordered gruffly. He was here to battle, not watch a comedy act.
That jolted Shaun out of his astonishment. His head swiveled toward the action, just in time to see the fire chick slash at Riolu's chest with sharp talons. Torchic landed nimbly and easily dodged the hastily thrown punch and chirped mockingly, standing tall.
"What gives?" Shaun gestured at the visible claw marks on his pokemon. Riolu was clutching a paw to his chest, fierce glare directed at his opponent with a promise of revenge. "That looks like it did more damage than before," he accused.
"You should learn to pay attention to the battle at hand rather than get into petty arguments with your own pokemon," Alex replied, teasing smile in place. Shaun gave him an unimpressed look. "It was Focus Energy, an attack that pushes adrenaline through the body to the point of intense concentration. It allows for better critical attacks."
Shaun just stared at the teen. "What are you, a walking encyclopedia?" he griped.
"Well, that's what happens when one truly wants to be a trainer." Alex stared at with narrowed eyes, tone hinting at condescending.
Shaun scrunched up his nose. "Yea, screw you, too." There wasn't any heat in his voice. He was truly glad to meet another that wasn't afraid to call him out on his own bullshit. It made him think of home. "Riolu, Aura Sphere, and try and make it work this time."
Riolu turned away, nose in the air. He didn't even bother to attempt another attack, knowing that it wouldn't work.
The crowd guffawed, finding the match hilarious.
Alex didn't bother to give his opponent time to recover and quickly barked out his next order. "Peck!"
Torchic, who had been looking a bit put off by its opponents uncaring actions towards the battle, had been shifting about rather restlessly. Now, with an order to get the battle going once more, he gave an eager chirp, beak already poised as he charged forward, body bent. He lunged, aiming carefully, sure to have the upper hand since his opponent was all but sulking with his nose in the air, but a pair of blue paws lashed out, catching him in the chest, grasp strong, and sending him flying.
"Nice." Shaun grinned, watching the fire chick soar into the air, talons flailing from the shock before instinct took over and his body turned so that it landed unharmed. The dark teen glanced at his pokemon, contemplative. "Focus Energy," he commanded.
Riolu did a double take, giving his trainer an incredulous look. "Rio," he barked, confused.
"Focus Energy isn't a move the riolu line can learn naturally," Alex offered, head shaking. "Torchic, let's finish this! Ember!"
The air grew hot once more as the tiny fireballs shot towards the fighting type, though they appeared smaller and far from the same power level as before. The battle had taken its toll on the fire type.
Shaun panicked, taking in his battered and tired pokemon, thinking this was the end. His mind raced through the brief knowledge he had gleaned from the pokedex, not wanting another loss. The attack was coming quick and Riolu was looking nervous, glancing back at his trainer for help. "Endure!" Shaun blurted out, finally remembering the name of at least one attack. That should do something, right?
The aura pokemon took a deep breath, looking relieved that his trainer finally came up with a perfect strategy for last minute survival. A dull, orange energy surrounded Riolu, just as the fire attack struck. The two clashed, creating a small blast of smoke that spread around the fighting types form, and Shaun had to squint to see if his pokemon had even survived the hit.
"Luu," came the weakened response as the smoke cleared, and Shaun felt his shoulders sag in relief. Still up, but barely.
"Another Ember!" Alex commanded immediately.
"Dodge!" Shaun barked, not wanting to risk using the same attack. It had barely survived the last hit, so why should it work twice?
Instead of rolling to the side or doing a magnificent leap into the air, Riolu fell to his stomach, body flat as the flames soared over head. Torchic chirped angrily, huffing tiredly and breathing out a bit of smoke, running out of energy to keep up the attacks.
Shaun saw it, knowing this was the moment. Elation suddenly grew as he ordered, "Aura Sphere!" using his most commanding voice, willing his pokemon to not fail, to not be defeated. Riolu twitched, annoyance filling him at the same command over and over, and yet he could feel his trainer's confidence, voice commanding, and so he lifted a single paw, putting everything into it.
A single spark of blue flew forward, shocking everyone. It shot forward with purpose, no bigger than a golf ball, and not unlike with the battle of the rhyhorn, Riolu felt pride surge through him. This wasn't a fight to the death, and yet he still felt like there something on the line. Pride? Purpose? A point to be made? What ever it was both Riolu and Shaun felt it the instant that tiny attack hit.
Jaws dropped and the crowd murmured in disbelief as the fire chick fell to the ground, eyes closed and chest rising unsteadily, before slowly giving off a few claps of congratulations.
Shaun stared, body hunching with incomprehension, eyes darting back and forth between the torchic and his own pokemon. Ecstasy suddenly swelled and he felt something that he had never truly felt before. Accomplishment.
"Rul," Rilu barked, staggering towards Shaun, puffing up his chest and staring up at his trainer with obvious pride. And damn straight he should be acting that way.
Shaun breathed out slowly, not realizing he had been holding his breath the second his opponent's pokemon had fallen, and felt relief rush through him. His hands clenched into fists. "Fuck yes," he breathed. "Fuck yea!" He pointed at Riolu, causing the aura dog to perk his ears up. "You fucking powned!" He lifted his head and laughed. It was loud, and had a slight hysterical feel to it, but it felt natural. He could remember laughing like this once. Or maybe he could remember laughing like this multiple times, times when he was on the brink of deranged and lingering on disbelief.
He could do this, he told himself. He could actually do this.
Alex had been by his pokemon's side the instant he had gone down, petting the warm feathers in soothing motions. Soft words were whispered of how proud he was and Shaun knew that instant that no matter how hard he was pushed he could never be like Alex. He was not trainer material, and never truly would be, but he could be his own being, a branch of what society saw as 'trainer' and he could bastardize it so that he could survive.
Dear Mew would he survive.
"Guess you win this time." Intrigue danced in Alex's gaze. He was disappointed at the loss, yes, but there was ambition and interest and so many other things that natural trainer's felt that Shaun couldn't even keep up. The smile was truly genuine, however. "How much did we wager on?"
That threw Shaun short.
Right, a wager was usually demanded before a battle even began, and yet both their interest in a rematch had gone against normal protocol. If anything Alex should have realized, but then why was he bringing it up now?
Shaun eyed the other teen, not exactly sure what he was feeling. Normally he would take the money without a second glance, but their first battle had lost and hadn't given the other even a cent. Sucks for him, and Shaun still didn't care that he hadn't given money for his first lost, but now something uncomfortable was growing in the pit of his stomach.
"What are you talking about?" Shaun sneered, stuffing his hands in his pockets. "We didn't make a wager."
Eyebrows shot up as Alex studied the dark teen. "Are you –"
"You fucking deaf?" was the rude interruption.
Alex stared with appraising eyes before glancing down to the two pokemon by their feet. Torchic was unconscious but sitting while conversely with Riolu. The aura dog was showing off the studded bracelet on its paw while Torchic chirped in appreciation. Silver eyes shot straight back to hazel.
"Yea," Alex said with a grin. "Yea, I heard you." He studied Shaun, gaze intense. "Try not to get killed before I see you next, asshole."
He swept past, raising a hand in goodbye, feeling like things were right between them, only to be stopped short at Shaun's next sentence.
"Your cousin tried to kill me."
And then it all shattered.
Alex's blood turned as cold as the chilled tone. He couldn't even turn to face the dark teen, so shocked by the sudden admission. The worst part was that he wasn't even denying that his cousin would do such a thing.
Shaun began stalking away, shoulders hunched and fists stuffed in his pants pockets. "I'm gonna return the favor." Slowly, Alex turned to face his rival. Shaun's face was completely blank, the emotions of the battle no longer there. "Thought you deserved to know."
Alex turned away.