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The news doesn't surprise me anymore. Honestly. All you see everywhere is new disasters, every day, everywhere. It's almost overwhelming to see the tests that humanity faces every day. But somehow, we get through it all. We overcome it. The obstacles put in our way are just temporary, nothing permanent. And even when they do harm us, we grow. We change. We face the threat, and we adapt to it. I am Ash Ketchum, and this is how I adapted.
Chapter 1: Delia's Wedding
As I crawled over the hot, hard rocks of the desert, I noticed that there was a complete lack of wildlife. Nothing at all. We seemed to be alone. I looked back at Brock, and his expression told the same story as mine. The small, yellow rodent Pokemon known as Pikachu was hopped up on my shoulder, sweating profusely. This was the only time since receiving him that I had considered putting him back in his Pokeball. His sweat had the sleeve of my black t-shirt drenched and smelling horribly. I couldn't wait until we reached our destination.
Brock and I had met back up after I completed my quest in the Unova region. We'd been traveling for a good week now, mostly by tram and boat. This was one of the rare instances where we had to walk to get somewhere.
"Shouldn't this desert have run out about a mile ago?" Asked Brock, now questioning our map's accuracy. It was obviously not recent, with the date at the bottom saying "1985", but we figured it would be accurate enough to at least get where we were going.
"Must've had a lot of desertification in twenty-seven years," I muttered under my breath. Talking was wasting energy, which was what we needed most right now. "I knew we shouldn't have bought it from the shopkeeper. He was… odd." It was true, he was incredibly strange. He seemed very happy to get the map out of his own hands, even giving us a seventy-five percent discount. Buisness must've hit a low point if he was having sales that low.
"Look, let's just hope we have enough time to change into the wedding clothes." Brock said. Today was the day that my mother was getting married. She had met a man named Darren on a shopping trip while in Johto. They had been dating for almost a year, and Darren had proposed about six months ago. The wedding took a while to plan, especially since the wedding of Mom's dreams wasn't really financially feasable for our family. Darren mustered up the money, coming from a rich family, and paid for it all, much to Mom's delight.
I've never liked Darren. He is sarcastic and cruel, especially to me for whatever reason. Mom hates that we don't get along, but Darren is well-liked by her friends and the residents of Pallet Town, so I guess one opinion wasn't really enough to sway her. It wasn't the fact that she was marrying him that got to me; I was happy as could be for her, especially since she's never been married or even in a real relationship. It was the fact that Darren was going to be my legal father that I hated. I couldn't stand the man, let alone call him "Dad." As far as I'm concerned, I don't have a father. He left my mother when he found it she was pregnant. I don't ever want a father. It's just fine with me and Mom only.
It's not like I ever really see my mother anyway, what with me being gone all of the time. In the five years that I've been training and battling with Pokemon now, very little of that time has been spent with my mother, and that's probably my deepest regret. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if something happened to her while I was gone.
"Ash, look, there's the town!" Brock interupted my thoughts, obviously exhausted. We made one last dash towards the city, while checking on the map for the church that Mom and Darren would be getting married at. Luckily, the church must've been constructed before the map was made, as we found it fairly quickly.
As I walked up to the rather small church, one thing was apparent; it hadn't been re-painted in years. Chips of brown stuck around the white paint, notifying to me that the church was built out of wood. Interesting that it had survived so long, as Celadon City, where the wedding was taking place, was prone to tornadoes and hurricanes. The city had a grassy theme to it, probably becaues of Erika, the local gym leader.
Erika was a strong trainer, one I respected more than most. She was a kind woman with a good heart, but a fierce mean streak during battles. Others have compared me to her at times, though I don't prefer grass Pokemon. They require a lot more care than other Pokemon, which is something a lot of people (like myself) simply don't have time for. Of course, being a gym leader, Erika probably has more time for those kind of things.
As I entered the church, I noticed that two tuxedos were thrown out onto a pew. I quickly realized that those were Brock and I's. Mom had prepared Brock with a dark black tux and brown tie. My tuxedo was the same color, only with a red tie. Personally, I thought they looked like a politician's daily wear and was very reluctant to put mine on. Brock seemed to like his, however, and rushed to the bathroom and threw it on immediately.
"Got to look nice," He told me. "You know, just in case Darren has any hot girl relatives, you know?" Typical of Brock. I laughed a bit, wondering wether or not it was a joke or if he was being completely serious. I assumed the worst, and went with the last option.
Mom hadn't invited my more recent traveling companions (mostly because she had never met them). Besides, they stayed in Unova, rather than come along with me to where ever I would go next. It didn't really bother me; they had their own dreams and ambitions, just like I did, but I found it sort of odd that Iris would miss my mother's wedding, invited or not. She was always into that kind of thing. I really don't know why. Weddings are some of the most boring things on earth.
After putting on my outfit, the wedding was about to start. After leaving the bathroom, I noticed that there were far more people here than I had originally thought there would be. A lot of Pallet Town citizens were there, to support Mom, and a few older friends of mine were there too. Mom had a tendency to become friends with my friends, so it didn't surprise me. I noticed that Dawn was sitting in the front row, squealing in delight. She waved at me, and I sheepishly waved back. I figured she would've came and adjusted my suit, her being the perfectionist she was. I walked away, and decided to take a seat in the second row next to Brock.
Brock looked incredibly dissapointed for whatever reason. "There's no hot girls!" He cried.
"Hot girls don't come to weddings, Brock. You have to go to a baby shower if you want hot girls." I should've known. I'd seen the pictures of my mother's baby shower, and some of the women there looked less than… modest, to say the least. Dad wasn't there, though. It would've meant more to me had no one showed up other than my father for the shower. All I ever wanted growing up was a father. I remember, every Christmas I would ask Santa (whom I still believed in at the time) for a Dad. Anyone would do. I guess I was always just missing that father figure in my life. I've wisened up since, and now that I don't want a father, it seems that I'm going to get one.
I noticed a brunette girl walk out of the women's bathroom of the church. She had her hair grown down and was wearing an emerald-green dress. I noticed her brown eyes and saw that it was May. May had been gone for three years, doing contests in Johto. I'd heard that she'd finally won the grand festival. I guess she's the princess of two regions, now. I wasn't exactly ecstatic to see May; shocked more or less. I had thought about meeting up with her sometime, but that never really got anywhere. As far as I'm concerned, she's one of the better friends I've had over the years.
She sat down in the pew next to me, uttering a slight "Hi." It was obvious that she was in a bad mood. If there was one thing I had learned from Brock, it was that you had to be very, very careful when talking to a woman in a bad mood. I chose my words carefully.
"Where have you been?"
As I realized my mistake in words, I prepared the side of my face for a slap. Luckily, it never came.
"Johto. Where else would I have been?" May asked. The question obviously puzzled her a bit. I decided to go along with it a bit, just to ease a bit of the tension.
"Well, you could've been anywhere, couldn't you? For all I know, you could've been hiding out in a jungle somewhere on an island." She looked at me like I was on drugs.
"Are you alright, Ash?"
"More or less." It was the truth. I was happy for my mother, but I disliked Darren. I genuinely didn't know what to do.
"What do you mean by that?"
I pondered for a minute, questioning myself on wether I should tell her my opinions on the groom-to-be. Luckily, Brock interrupted our incredibly awkward conversation.
"So, when does this thing start?" Brock asked me. May grabbed the bulletin next to her, opening it up and carefully inspecting its contents. "The bulletin that I got when I came says that it starts at about eight." It was currently seven o'clock.
"Oh, hi May!" Brock said, excitedly. "I didn't even notice you over there." May cracked a smile for the first time since I'd seen her.
"Hi, Brock," She sad, with a twinge of happiness in her voice. "So, have you done anything new since I left?"
"Well, I did become a Pokemon Doctor." Brock's eyes lit up at the mere mention of the words. It was obvious that the proffesion he had gotten into was his passion.
"That's great! I haven't done much of anything since winning the Grand Festival. Mostly just preparing for next year's Festival."
"Why don't you take some time off from preparing?" I said. "Maybe rest a while. I mean, I know I wouldn't be in such a hurry if I won the Grand Festival to get started again. Battling and contests are great, but sometimes you just need a break."
May looked shocked at what I said. "Ash Ketchum, taking a break? I guess hell has frozen over since I left you guys, huh?" Pikachu must've taken notice of May, as he sprung forward and jumped on her lap.
"Pikapiiiii?" He rested his small yellow head on May's lap, his red cheeks buzzing. May picked him up and cradled him in her arms, almost like a mother carrying a baby. Pikachu seemed to enjoy it, as he rested his body in her arms.
"He must really like May." I whispered to Brock. Brock raised his eyebrows a bit. "You know, Pokemon can occasionally take on the feelings of their trainers." He cracked a smile at his joke, while I scowled at him, because it wasn't like that. I hadn't really ever seen May romantically, and I doubted that it was going to change. We were just good friends, and we didn't even really seem like that today.
I walked out of the pew and went to the kitchen area of the church, were food was being distributed while the guests waited. I saw Darren sitting in a chair, beaming. It seemed as though it was the happiest day of his life. Darren had a small beard on his face, combined with a slight mustache at on his upper lip that connected to the beard. He had tattoes running down his right arm, but he had those covered up today. His suit looked very expensive- probably enough to feed a family for a good week- and was flashy. He had on a dark green tie with red stripes running down the middle. His suit looked as though one would wear it on a Christmas church service, and not to a wedding. He was chatting with some of his friends who were drinking champagne from a dixie cup. Darren wasn't drinking, however.
Darren had been to rehab because of a drug issue he had. He was addicted to a lot of illegal substances, but the rehab appears to have cleaned him up. I haven't seen him touch so much as a beer or a ciggarette since I met him. That was one of his few admirable traits. I figured that this was what attracted my mother to him in the first place. He was a broken man, and women love a man that they can fix.
As he got up from the table and dismissed his friends, most of which I had never seen before, he walked up to me, and spoke to me.
"Look, I know you're probably not comfortable with Delia and I getting married." Not comfortable? Was this guy an idiot? Of course I wasn't comfortable. I was angry.
"No, not really," I said to him. I was just being honest. I really didn't care if it hurt his feelings or not. "But if it makes Mom happy, then I guess I'll just have to go with it."
"She hasn't been happy in a long time, you know," Darren said. He was right. Mom was almost always sad these days. At least, until she met Darren, she was. "She told me about your dad. I'm sorry. I'm not going to do that. I would never hurt Delia." With that, he walked away. This was the first time I felt any amount of respect for Darren at all. Brock and May walked up behind me, Brock clutching my shoulder.
"You know," Brock muttered. "I think you might have to give this guy another chance." May looked puzzled.
"You don't like Darren?" She questioned. The expression on her face was one of confusion. She had never met Darren before, so I guess she would figure that he was a great guy.
"Not really, no. He's sarcastic and occasionally cruel, and a reformed druggie. I just don't trust him." Pikachu, who had now sprung back up onto my shoulder, nodded in agreement.
"I seriously think this might be Delia's last chance at a relationship, Ash. You should let her have it." Classic Brock. Clueless about love when it came to himself, but great at giving advice about it to others. Brock had made his point and he walked off. May stayed behind to grab some ramen noodles off of a table.
"I really don't see anything wrong with him." She said to me.
"Try living with him for a month like I have." I had finished my journey in Unova earlier than expected, and decided to come home to be with my Mom for a while. Darren was a surprise, and not like a good surprise birthday party. It was more like walking into your bathroom, about to take a shower, when suddenly, a chainsaw killer pops out of the closet as you reach for a towel and cuts your limbs off. A lot like that.
"I'm not going to try arguing with you, Ash," May said with a somewhat dissapointed face. "Because we all know how that will end. I'm just saying, maybe this Darren guy isn't so bad after all. Who knows, you might actually like eachother after a while."
"I appreciate you trying to cheer me up, May, but I really don't think I'll ever like the fact that Darren will be married to my Mom."
"Suit yourself." With that, in typical May fashion, she put down the bowl of ramen and walked away.
Her response didn't surprise me; May had always been like that. In fact, almost every woman I'd ever met had been like that. I've always figured it was some sort of feminine motto; "If you don't get your way, go away." There was something a bit more sadenning when May did it. Maybe it was the look of dissapointment on her face. I hate dissapointing people, especially since my earliest memory is that of dissapointment. When your father leaves before you're even born, you always feel like a dissapointment. I did, and I probably always will.
"Excuse me!" Shouted a voice from the sanctuary. I turned to see an old man, presumabely the pastor of the church, ringing a bell and holding a microphone. "The ceremonies are about to start, and everyone should return to their seats immediately."
As a group of people who had been eating in the kitchen lazily lulled their way back to the sanctuary to sit down and get the wedding over with, I started hearing noises outside. "Murderers, lawless, police!" At first I paid them no attention. "Murderers, lawless, police!" I turned around and stared out of the churches stained windows, seeing nothing. And then it became so loud that everyone in the room turned their heads.
"MURDERERS! LAWLESS! POLICE!" At the sound of the voices, Darren ran to the door and opened it, revealing a horrifying scene outside. Darren had paid for a police escort to the wedding, presumeably to make my mother feel more like a "queen" than she already did, getting married to a man of such high status. The police in Celadon were well known for being ruthless and not afraid to pull the trigger if need be. A huge crowd of people surrounded the policemen outside, as they had only arrived about thirty minutes ago and decided to stay around for some food.
One man held up a mannequin dressed up like a Celadon policemen, famous dark blue uniform, golden badge, everything. It was hanging from a noose that was tied to a giant piece of wood. It was disturbing, to say the least. When the police tried to enforce the law on these protestors, all hell broke loose.