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The story itself is rated ‘PG’ just for safety, and will go no higher than PG-13.
Comments, critiques, etc. are appreciated and welcomed. Don’t hesitate to point out any typos – as due to the length of this chapter, and I am quite sure I missed some.. and just because I have a horrid proof-reading eye. Also note that one or two things which might count as mistakes, are on purpose. (As a hint, they’ll be in italics.)
Also note that in the first stage, that I’m trying to portray young characters to the best of my ability – so their mannerisms and such will be as close to their age group (hopefully right on) as I can manage them. If you feel that they are not acting as they should, please don’t hesitate to say so. Thank you.
[Stage 1: Childhood]
Changing Circumstances Pt.II
By: Saffire Persian
[Stage 1: Childhood]
Childhood is a fleeting thing,
Looking back on the Past with no regret,
Looking at the Future as little but a dream for another day,
Living in the Here and Now for only a small time,
So hold onto it while you can…
You are running quickly, caring only that you put as much distance from between you and your cousin as possible. You can still hear her counting up to one hundred like you made her, though, knowing your cousin, she doesn’t always play fair. She thinks she does, but she’s stupid in that way. In a game of ring toss, she insisted she had won because she had gotten all the rings on the hooks, but the truth of the matter was she only got them on the hooks because she had walked right up to the devices you threw the rings on and dropped the rings onto them.
Her parents and your parents praised her for her ingenuity (Dad said that meant ‘smart’) and creativity.
You just called her stupid.
That, and a no good liar-cheater.
Because of the memory, you run all the more faster, glaring back in the direction where she should be standing, a scowl creeping onto your features.
Stella is your cousin after all. And as your cousin, she’s bound to cheat.
(But the Viridian Forest has many places to hide.)
You haven’t been here much since your mother watches you like a hawk; but you do know that the small forest offers many nooks and crannies to hide in… you might even find something special while you’re at it. You’ve heard the stories that float around school about all the ‘mysterious treasures’ around here, hidden in secret passageways, enclosed in orbs that look like Pokéballs… The forest holds every ingredient for an adventure for a kid such as yourself, and you have even gone on one or two ‘secret’ outings with a few kids from school, searching for treasure.
But at the moment, treasure hunting is not a part of your eight-year-old agenda. Hiding is, and hiding fast. You can’t hear Stella counting anymore, and because she likes to talk loudly, you know that the reason you can’t hear her counting anymore isn’t because you’re too far away.
You snort in indignation. She didn’t even get to twenty-five! The nerve of her!
Trying to make as little noise as possible, you dart down the brown path, spotting a likely bunch of berry bushes just in front of you, surrounded by a few trees. Thick and bushy, it’s as good of a place as any to hide.
“Whhherreee areeee you?! Come out! Come out! Wherever you are! Twenty-one! Ninety-nine! ONE HUNDRED!”
Bottling down the urge to yell at your cousin (and shamelessly tell her that she’s the biggest cheater you’ve ever seen ever), you decide to tell her she’s a big cheater only after she gives up, and only then. You then dive into the berry bushes without hesitation (though you’re still fuming; she needs to play fair!), wrinkling your nose at the overwhelming berry-smell. Pleasant as it may be, it’s stifling to you.
Well, she won’t be able to smell me, then, you think.
Hunkering down amidst the leafy foliage, you watch (well you try to watch, you can’t exactly see much from where you are) and try to listen to what your cousin is doing; from the sound of her voice, she’s walking away.
Good, you can find another hiding place if needs be. It’s not cheating, and even if it is, if she can cheat, so can you. Fair is fair, right?
As her voice fades away into the forest, your heartbeat slows its desperate pounding and your breathing slows. Not wanting to be seen, you crawl across the ground on your hands and knees, blissfully unaware on how much anguish you will probably cause your mother when you come home, clothes worn and dirty.
Squirming through a rather dense patch, your face peeks out of the bushes, your eyes furtively darting left and right. A large shape suddenly fills the whole of your vision, its large, black eyes boring into yours. A split-second later, when your brain has finally registered what exactly is going on, you scream. You scream as loud as you possibly can, holding nothing back.
You stop screaming abruptly.
Not because of someone coming to your rescue, but because at the moment you began screaming the bug (which you now recognize as a Caterpie) started screaming too, high-pitched and shrill. However, unlike you, it shows no signs of stopping. All you can do is stare and blink as its black eyes go as wide as saucepans while it rises up on its green body like snake Pokémon would.
Suddenly, its eyes roll to the back of its head, and it topples straight onto its back. It doesn’t move, and it isn’t screaming anymore. Hesitantly, you poke it; it’s as stiff as a plank of wood.
A plethora of emotions surge through your mind, confusion and horror becoming the most prominent of them all. You didn’t kill it, did you? You didn’t mean to. You certainly didn’t want to. That doesn’t make this your fault does it?
Nuh’uh, you tell yourself. It’s not dead. Just fainted. Like on TV.
Pokémon do that all the time, right?
Yeah, that’s right.
Your little frame heaves with relief and you laugh nervously, wondering how in the world you could’ve been scared of such a diminutive creature. It’s not big like the Caterpie you’ve seen before, so it must be young like you are...it’s tiny enough you could probably squish under your shoe. (Not like you’d want to.) You’re not a scardy-cat like Mom is. She’s the scardy-cat when it comes to bugs, she’s the one who’d have a fit.
Still… the Caterpie hasn’t moved a muscle. And even though it has only fainted (You think. You know. You want to hope.) it still worries you. So, you decide to talk to it. Maybe it can hear you or something. You start with an apology – that usually works the first time.
“M’sorry that I scared you: I promise I’m not a monster or nothing like that...” You then add out of inspiration: “You scared me, too.”
It doesn’t move. You shift into a sitting position as you clear the bushes, rather frustrated. Why isn’t it waking up now? You apologized – wait! You think you saw one eye just open – just for a few seconds -- before snapping closed. The response is heartening, but it confuses you all the same. Maybe you’re have a hallucinwhatits… well, whatever it’s called. You’ll think of it later.
Again, you poke it to see if you get a response; it’s still stiff.
“Wake up!” you say, this time louder. You wait. There it is again! The eye opened. This time, you’re sure of it. It didn’t faint – it’s just playing dead! That makes you furious. It’s just like Stella with its tricks. That’s not fair – and it’s not right! You were worried. You’re not worried anymore, but still…
“You’re just playin’ dead! I saw you! I saw you, I did!” you tell the Caterpie, making sure your tone is as annoyed as it can get, folding your arms for emphasis. Both saucepan-eyes open. It’s watching you now. Good. “You’re being mean, you know. I’m not sorry anymore!”
Slowly, the Caterpie curls up onto its back. It looks confused, and rolls over onto its stomach. “Pri? Catrrr prii?” It makes no movement to run, so you continue on your little tirade, spilling your heart out with no regret to the consequences that might happen later on.
“That’s right, you were being naughty! You’re not supposed to trick people! My mom says that tricking people's bad. She gets mad at Dad for it allll the time! She says it’s a no-no, so what you’re doing is bad.”
(The fact that it playing dead came naturally to it never occurred to you.)
You stare at it, noticing that there are tears pricking at the corners of the bug’s eyes, and it actually looks genuinely sorry… or maybe it’s just scared of you again. That thought in itself makes you feel bad.
You sigh. “I guess I’m sorry again if you’re sorry. So… you sorry?”
“Then I’m sorry. I forgive you for your trick, but –“ You waggle a finger in its direction. “--don’t do it again, ‘k?”
You’re not sure how much the Caterpie understands, but you think it understands enough, and you reach out a hand tentatively to pet it to show that you're sorry and aren’t going to hurt it. It doesn’t screech or run away as you reach out your hand, patting it on the head. It seems to rather enjoy it, judging from the happy sound coming out of its throat.
(After all, you haven’t rushed at it, and haven’t tried to eat it or squish it under your shoe, and you’ve apologized, so why should it?)
You blink. Once, twice.
Your face scrunches up in thought, as you try to make sense of the thing’s gibberish as it tries to talk to you. You think you can understand some things, and you know it’s trying to ask you something, but its gibberish is starting to sound like the noises your baby cousin garbles. You freeze.
The Caterpie seems to notice your surprise and flinches, inching back a few paces, but it doesn’t run away. Then you hear a familiar voice yelling through the trees. She had to have heard your scream. Great. You have to find somewhere else to hide, fast, or she’ll find you, and you really don’t want to lose.
You move backwards into the bushes abruptly, and the Caterpie squeals in fright, searching about frantically. You peek your head out of the bush, hearing your cousin’s voice coming closer and closer. “I need to hide!” you whisper for the bug-type’s benefit. “She’ll find me! Sorry. But I’ve gotta go.”
“Catr? Pi?” To your surprise, the bug has approached you on its own accord, rising on its long body to try and look at you on your level. It looks rather concerned as it cocks its head, a small growlish sound radiating from its throat.
A loud yell disturbs you: it’s your cousin shouting your name.
“Ehh…” your face twists in confusion as you try to make sense of what’s being said. “Umm.. Yeah, that’s who I’m hidin’ from if that’s what y’mean.”
As you make a move to retreat further into the bushes, you see that the caterpillar's following, nudging you with its head. You ignore it and begin to disappear deeper into the only concealment you have. It pursues you into the next small clearing as you look left and right, deciding which way to go. It then takes the opportunity to dart in front of you, hopping up and down.
“Capi. Sqrea! Catrrrrr!”
With your attention caught, it stops and begins to crawl in the opposite direction, peering over its shoulder. It makes another odd noise, an insistent one. Maybe… it wants you to follow it?
Your cousin’s voice is getting closer and your heart quickens as you begin to panic, Stella's voice too close for your own comfort. Oddly, the Caterpie looks rather frantic too. It’s jumping up and down again, squeaking.
(It is almost as if it is saying ‘Come on! Come on!’)
“You know somewhere I can hide?”
It nods quickly. Once. Twice. Thrice. And with a nervous ‘squee’ it bolts through the bushes.
For something so small, it sure is fast. You wince; knowing you can’t keep up with it; you can’t exactly stand up and run, because Stella’ll see you for sure. So, you’ll have to trudge it, carefully, cautiously.
You set off in the caterpillar’s wake, crawling as fast as you dare through the foliage, dirt, and berries, trying your best to keep up with the bug Pokémon. You can’t really move that fast, crawling on your hands and knees like you are: the bushes slow you down and they rustle when you go through them so you have to move slowly in order for you to make as little noise as possible. Luckily for you, the Caterpie notices you’re having trouble, and slows down by a large amount, allowing you to keep up.
When you finally clear the veritable “forest” of bushes, you spot the Caterpie just in time to see it dart into a opening underneath the roots of a rather old looking tree. It’s a rather large gap, looking as if it had been dug out by a Pikachu or something. Maybe the gap’s big enough (and deep enough) for you to squeeze through. Just maybe… just maybe you can fit.
Looking over your shoulder, you become determined. You’re going to try; Stella’s not going to win this round. You’re not gonna to let her.
Somehow, you manage to fit underneath the tree, but the space is cramped so you’re forced to curl up in a tight ball like a cat just to fit. There’s enough room for the Caterpie to fit too. It's pacing around in a tight circle nervously –even more so when Stella’s voice periodically filters through the forest.
You frown. “Stella’s not that scary, you know. Well…” You pause. “…she can be a little bit scary sometimes. She’s kinda like a bird, I guess: throw her a worm or something she likes and she’s nice enough until she wants another one...” you pause again, only realizing your mistake after the Caterpie squeaks in fright, looking more nervous than ever. You hurry to correct your faux pas, though the damage has already been done. “Umm… maybe she’s like a cat, she likes them better. Yeah…”
The Caterpie doesn’t seem that assured, and goes completely still, like it did before when it was playing dead. You hear Stella moving in your direction – she’s really making no attempt whatsoever to keep quiet. You mimic the Caterpie’s posture, going completely rigid. You hold breath and count to ten, breathing again only when her voice fades away enough to feel safe.
“So,” you say quietly, “this your house?”
“It’s kinda small. Is there someplace bigger?”
It cocks its head, and thinks for a moment.
Slowly, it creeps out from underneath tree roots, and you can hear it move through the berry bushes as you began the rather arduous task of getting out from underneath the tree. You only just manage to get your head out into clean air before you spot something white colored dart past you. It’s a bird – not one of the small ones you see around your yard from time to time, but a bigger one you’ve only seen once or twice in the fields. You think you remember you dad calling it a Pidgeotto.
A terrified squeal disrupts your thoughts, and you spot the Caterpie’s long, green body running back through bushes toward you with the Pidgeotto in fast, eager pursuit.
The bird looks absolutely murderous, and your need no incentive to pull back into the den while the Caterpie scurries in from another (smaller) opening by where your feet are. The Pidgeotto doesn’t waste any time trying to dive in after the bug, but a well placed kick with your foot wards the tawny-feathered creature off.
“Otto!” it hisses venomously, glaring at the both of you through the gap. It hops backwards on its talons, surveying the situation with keen, golden eyes.
A moment later, it hops backwards a few more paces and begins to flap its wings with great, powerful thrusts. The thrusts send waves of dust, dirt, bits of foliage, and even a few small rocks into your hiding place without an ounce of mercy. The Pidgeotto is clearly trying to force you – or more specifically the Caterpie – out.
The airborne mix of dirt and other particles is making it hard to breathe, and every breath makes you sneeze or cough, and the sharper bits blown in from the Pidgeotto’s Gust stings any part of your body that’s uncovered. Even worse, you can’t see, having already had the sense to bury your face within your arms. Despite this, the Caterpie still manages to scream in absolute terror, which to you is far worse than what the Pidgeotto is flinging at you.
“Leave us alone!” you manage to yell, before the dirt forces its way down your throat, stifling your voice and making you choke.
“Pigit!” it hisses again, menacingly, but it doesn’t stop. In fact, the attacks seem to intensify.
This time, you hear the bird cry out in pain, and the Gust stops. You open your eyes just in time to see the Pidgeotto spin around as a rock lands near its taloned feet, making it jump back. Its feathers flare, and it squawks at something you cannot see.
“Leave him alone, you stupid, no-good birdbrain!”
It’s Stella’s voice.
At her voice, you slowly start to creep out from underneath the tree again, spotting your cousin. She looks determined and certainly quite a bit miffed, holding a small rock in her palm. The Pidgeotto is still refusing to leave its spot, flapping its wings in warning and screeching fit to burst. Stella is by no means intimidated by the gesture.
You shake your head, and Caterpie appears beside you, watching the confrontation from behind your shoulder.
“Leave him alone,” your cousin repeats. The Pidgeotto isn’t happy at this, glaring vehemently at your cousin as she glares back with her usual, stubborn look, beginning to toss the rock up at down. The Pidgeotto puffs itself up, wings spread…
… Only to be hit in the head with another well-aimed rock a second later as Stella reiterates her command, telling it adamantly to shut up (a word she uses quite often) on the side. This time, the Pidgeotto looks a bit hesitant and its screeches fade in volume.
The Caterpie, meanwhile, is looking back and forth between human and bird with unconcealed amazement while also looking very much alarmed. Stella herself has picked up another rock from the ground, continuing to yell at the bird before unexpectedly charging with a loud and very much ungirlish roar that sends the Caterpie fleeing back into its hiding place.
(If you didn’t know Stella as well as you do, perhaps you would have, too.)
The bird, in the meantime, is staring in shocked silence at the feral, beastly sound your cousin emitted. It quickly comes out of its reverie, squawking in surprise and irritation as it is forced to hurriedly backtrack on ungainly legs away from your charging cousin. Stella shows no signs of stopping, eventually making the screeching bird turn ‘round and take wing.
As soon as it’s up in the air, Stella launches her last rock. Stella has always had a good aim – and the next shot proves it, missing the Pidgeotto by only a small margin.
Defeated, the Pidgeotto gives back one last, baleful glance, before fleeing in the other direction with all the dignity it can muster.
With the bird gone, you take the chance to pull your body fully out of your temporary hiding place, standing up and brushing a dirt off your t-shirt and pants. You’re a complete mess, covered from head to toe with all the grime and dirt the Pidgeotto was gracious enough to throw at you.
You barely have time to compose yourself before Stella places herself right in front of you, her smile one that would put an Aipom to shame.
“I could’ve got it myself,” you say off-handedly, not liking the way she’s smiling at you at all; it’s rather unnerving, to tell the truth.
“You’re okay, then?”
“Of course I am,” you grumble, “I’m not a baby, you know.”
“Good!” she shouts, her smile growing wider before tackling you unceremoniously to the ground, making a ‘victory’ sign with her fingers. “Then I found you! I win, I win, I win!”
“You did not! You cheated!” you yell angrily. “Get off of me!”
She doesn’t budge, though she does sound a bit offended. “I didn’t cheat. I did exactly as you said.”
“You didn’t count to one hundred. You cheated!”
“I did not!” Stella exclaims. “I counted to one hundred, I just did it faster than you by not saying all the numbers.”
An uncharacteristic growl makes its way out of your throat, but you don’t care. “You’re the biggest cheater ever! Now get off of me!”
She shifts into a sitting position, still perched atop your back, making sure to meet your eyes as her grin goes rather lopsided. “You’re just a sore loser, and,” she adds, “you scream like a sissy.”
That was the last straw. You are not a sissy – no way, no how.
“I’m not a sissy!” you yell loudly, this time making a more active attempt to throw Stella off your back, absolutely furious at the unwritten rule that you do not, under any circumstance, hit girls.
Normally, the taboo doesn’t bother you at all – but with Stella… there’s no words to describe how much you hate the rule. She’s nice a lot of a time and fun to be around when she’s not being a cheater or a liar, and that’s why you hang around with her. But even memories of times like that don’t stop you from wanting to explode and do something to retaliate. Stella tends to have that effect on you when she wants to; she’s able to bring out the side of yours that few people can. (Your dad says that it’s your ‘mother’s side’.)
In your opinion, she can take the most sane and patient of people and turn them in to raging, roaring monsters – with her not batting an eye during the process. She knows how to push your buttons, and do it well, even if, at times, it’s not intentional.
In the end, you manage to calm yourself, though the observant of eye would have noticed your eyebrows twitching madly in rebellion.
“I don’t scream…like a sissy.”
“Uh’huh. I heard you – that’s how I found you.”
You stop your struggling, your eyes narrowing as you look toward your old hiding place where a very noticeable green head is sticking out, watching you. “That wasn’t me, it was the Caterpie!”
Your cousin cocks her head in confusion, and you finally have the opportunity to throw her off balance and, most importantly, off your back.
You point towards the tree as you stand up, and the Caterpie’s head disappears back into the darkness as quickly as it had appeared.
Stella frowns. “I don’t see one.”
“That’s because it’s hiding,” you tell her, adding, “stupid.”
Of course, Stella never responds to that. You don’t think she really cares, but you call her that anyway.
“Oh… just watch! Caterpie!” Slowly, the Caterpie’s head emerges from beneath the tree roots once more, looking at Stella with a rather frightened expression. It then looks to you, then to Stella again in apparent confusion. “I’m not hiding from her anymore,” you tell it. “She’s not gonna hurt you. She’s not gonna eat you either.”
This time, it’s your cousin’s turn to look confused, and you decide it’s best not to tell her what you said to the Caterpie about her. She’d just get mad and hit you with her fist or a small rock -- whichever one comes to her mind first. You’ve gotten plenty of bruises from her to prove it, too; she likes to throw stuff a little too much.
“See,” you say.
“Fine. You don’t scream like a sissy.”
At that, you grin triumphantly and the Caterpie takes the opportunity to scuttle out the hollow and behind your legs.
“I was saving it from the bird. It was going to eat it.”
Your cousin rolls her eyes, before kneeling down to the Caterpie’s level. It backs away, an odd gurgle making its way out of its throat. “Well, what’re you gonna to do with it?”
You shrug. “What d’you mean, ‘what am I going to do with it’?
“The Pidgeotto might come back, then it’ll get eaten –” The Caterpie’s expression is now utterly mortified “—and you don’t want it to get eaten, d’you? ‘Cause if it does, it’ll be your fault!”
The Caterpie is now clinging to your pant leg for dear life as it searches the skies frantically for signs of the avian Pokémon. You shake your head. “You’re not gonna get eaten.” The Caterpie calms visibly down at that, so you turn your attention back to Stella. She does actually have a point: you can’t just let it get eaten. “Well, what am I supposed to do with it? Take it home?”
Stella nods. You sigh.
“Mom’s scared of bugs, though.”
Stella grins. “I know. It’s kinda funny.”
“Besides, maybe the Caterpie doesn’t want to go.”
“Did you ask it?”
“Then do it.”
You look down at the tiny Caterpie, who looks up at you rather expectantly. “Well, you heard her. D’you want to go? You don’t have to if you don’t want.”
It takes a few seconds for the Caterpie to respond, looking back to its hide-away, to the sky, to Stella, and lastly to you. It nods slowly.
“See?” says Stella. “Now, was that hard?”
Deciding not to respond, you stare up into the sky, watching the clouds as if they were the most entertaining things in the world.
“Well… if you really don’t wanna take it, I guess I could take it home for awhi –“
Both you and the Caterpie both cut her off in one instantaneous moment.
“PRIIIII!” “NO! I’ll take it home!”
You both look at one another. The Caterpie’s eyes are alternating between you and Stella, its face still terrified (and after hearing that beastly roar on Stella’s account, you don’t blame it) while yours holds a rather resolute, determined expression. All you know is there is no way in the universe she’s taking the Caterpie home.
Stella’s courting a Cheshire Cat grin once more. “What did you say?”
You decide to scowl and stare at her sullenly in return, sighing for good measure. You know for a fact she heard exactly what you said, that all-knowing, smug look a clear indicator if nothing else was. “I said,” you repeat, saying each word slowly so she can’t fake her way out this time, “I’ll take it home. It doesn’t want to go with you.”
Stella’s smile doesn’t fade, if anything, she looks more excited than before. “I really hoped you’d say that,” she says, grabbing your wrist. “C’mon! I wanna see Aunt Claire freak out!”
She says that, but she doesn’t know about the time a bug-type had the misfortune of crawling into your house. The last time, it had been a Kakuna that had managed to get into your house through an open window. She doesn’t know how the Kakuna had made its way into your parents’ room and into their bed. She wasn’t there to hear the unearthly, banshee scream that sent nearby neighbors rallying to your house. And when she came over to your house that day, she did not see the small hole in your parents’ bedroom window where glass should have been – nor for that matter did she see the fragments of your mother’s favorite porcelain vase littering your parents’ bedroom floor amongst the tussled bedcovers and fallen books.
She did, however, notice your father’s wary attitude, and your mother’s rather paranoid behavior.
But all she said about it was, laughing, “Did Uncle Will scare Aunt Claire again?”
At that statement, you shook your head, but decided against telling her what happened. It wasn’t any of her business anyway, and she certainly did not need any new ideas. She was full to the brim with them anyway, and not one had done anyone but herself an ounce of good.
The Kakuna itself had gotten away unharmed, its outer shell protecting it from the more physical aspects of your mother’s break down. Although, it did look very much disturbed as you watched it flee back into the forest, if its wobbly hops were any indication.
After that experience, bug-types never surfaced around your house again.
No, you then decide, shaking your head. She doesn’t have a clue.
You then break out of Stella’s grasp, eying her incredulously. “Now? Do we have to now?”
Stella nods. “Yes, now. I found you. I won, so the game’s over.”
You still will not let her ‘winning’ go. She cheated, and you intend to ingrain that in her brain until the day she dies, then afterwards in heaven (if the angel-people allow it, anyway). “You cheated!”
“I still found you,” she says, sticking out her tongue. “So there!”
You grit your teeth, forcing yourself not to yell something that you might regret. “If we go back, you have to promise to not say anything to my mom about the Caterpie.”
You fold your arms across your chest. You’re not going to budge, come rocks or fists, until she agrees. “’Cause I said so.”
Stella looks rather disappointed at the thought, though she relents. “Okay… you’ll probably mess up anyways. “
You suddenly hold out your hand, a serious expression coming to your young face. Even the Caterpie seems surprised at your gesture. “Pinky swear.”
You sigh. “Just do it, Stella.”
Stella shrugs, and extending her own hand, she completes the ritual without much thought to the matter. At that, you’re satisfied. Not even she could find a loophole out of the promise now.
You now tune out her merry little ditty she’s humming, turning your attention to the Caterpie who has thus far not said another word, watching the exchange between you two in silence. You don’t feel quite so hesitant about your commitment now, but you can’t help but think that your mother might just be far worse than an angry bird when it comes down to it, and twice as hard to drive off and change her mind.
But you suppose as long as she doesn’t find out, it will all be well.
It’ll be only for a few days. It can’t be that hard, can it?
“It is by chance that we met, by choice that we became friends.”
I like this story. It's a unique alternative to the other trainer stories. Keep up the good work Saffire Persian!
Awww, how sweet! Yep, we've all got a cousin/sister/brother/random relative like that, one who can't live without cheating. It's fun seeing a Pokemon twist to things! And the Caterpie has such a cute paranoid little personality! X3
This is really good! It flowed well and wasn't at all hard to read, like some stories. I give it a thumbs-up!
Avatar courtesy of Digik Designs's Sarah
Spiritomb, Feebas, Murkrow, Cranidos, Stunky, etc.
Wow, this is really good. It's just brilliant. It flows well, the description is amazing, and I didn't see any mistakes (except your use of faux pas but you put that in italics). I'm very intrested to see where this goes. Please, continue.
Wow 2nd person, it's definitely a unique form. I haven't had a chance to read your story all the way through yet, but, from what I have, it sounds very well written. I can't wait until I have some time on my hands.
Be sure to read "A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal" by William Wordsworth. In it, he makes an interesting allusion to Shakespeare's idea of sleep.
Great Fanfiction: ChicRocketJames
Meangirl: Thanks, I'm glad you think it has a unique storyline. Hopefully it will keep on being so, as well as a fun read.
Muse: : Dunno if paranoid even cuts it. xDXD The poor thing. I do love the Caterpie's personality though. I'm also really glad to hear it wasn't hard to read. Thank you for your review!
Schizophrenic Charmander: Hopefully you don't mind me saying you have a very unique screen name. It's cool. And what was wrong with the faux pas? As the word is another language's word, I italicized it, so doesn't go into the category some of the kids' words would. So maybe I am wrong. I'm glad it flowed well! Thanks for your review!
Popular Andy: I will definitely read that book if I ever get my hands on it - and thanks for dropping a response by. I hope whenever you read it, you'll find it entertaining, or whatever.
...Anyway, here's the next chapter. (This was originally part of the first chapter) hence the boring title.
Changing Circumstances Pt. II
Sneaking the Caterpie inside your house set upon the outskirts of Viridian City is turning out to be harder than you previously thought. For starters, you and Stella picked a very bad time to come home. As you approached the house, you could see your mother through the window sitting at the dinner table just on the opposite side of your father, sipping her usual cup of herbal tea.
You could’ve always come back later – in fact, that’s what you would’ve done like every smart child trying to sneak something in one’s room.
The thing is, Stella waits for no one. A Charizard could have been breathing fire at the doorway and she still would have flown towards the door with as much enthusiasm as a Growlithe after a bone.
It was too late to call out to her and tell her to stop what she was doing. Though it wasn’t like she would have listened, anyway; but you did try, and that did as much good as not having spoken at all.
Was she deliberately trying to make your situation harder than it should be?
Now that you think about it, perhaps you should’ve made the rules of what she could and could not do before you made her pinky swear a bit more clearer; but there’s nothing you can do about it now – she’s already opened the door and gone inside, greeting your parents in her usual loud voice (You can hear it from where you’re standing), only to come to the door again, waving and calling your name.
There’s no possible way you can get out of going inside now. Great.
A scowl emerges (for the who-knows-what-number-of-times today), and you mutter something you heard Mom say under her breath at Dad once. You really don’t know what it means, but it makes you feel quite a bit better, anyway.
You look at the perhaps doomed soul perched on your shoulder with pity; its look is nearly identical – a little more concerned though. You think it can probably tell that you’re angry, so you calm down just a little, not wanting to freak out the Caterpie more than it already is.
“Everything will be fine. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna let anything happen to you, ‘k…”
You can hear your mother calling you now, and you know you’re already taking too long in going inside… Your mother will get suspicious if you stall much longer, and you don’t want that. You don’t want to leave the Caterpie, because it might wander off, and it doesn’t know where you room is.
Not to mention the Pidgeotto might’ve followed you home, even though you can’t see it.
You sigh. There’s only one thing you can do, there’s nothing for it. You’ll have to smuggle it in like a pirate. You tug at your shirt collar, suddenly glad you wore the baggy, overlarge shirt that you got from one of your cousins today. “Get in.”
The Caterpie’s eyes widen, looking confused beyond all belief. “Priii?”
“I mean, get inside my shirt. I’m have to hide you so my mom can’t see you, so stay still.”
Your heart full of trepidation, you stiffly walk into the house, nervous beyond belief. You hope, looking at your crossed arms, that your mother won’t notice the small bulge in the middle of your shirt. You purposely avoid Stella’s eyes, not wanting to give her the slightest provocation. You say only a meager ‘hello’ in greeting to your mother and father before picking up the pace towards the stairs that lead to your room. Truthfully, you hardly trust yourself to say anything, worried that if you do, everything will be messed up, and you don’t want to take any chances.
Sighing with relief, your foot reaches the first set of stairs --
“Hey!” a familiar voice interrupts you, and you freeze, your foot resting on the first step as you turn to stare at Stella with a very apparent ‘what the heck do you think you’re doing?’ look. “Aren’t you going to eat lunch with me before you go upstairs? Your mom made sandwiches for us! Your favorite: peanut butter and jelly!”
“Maybe later,” you spit out gruffly.
Silence. The rustling sound of a newspaper page being turned. You inhale and try to dart up the stairs before anyone can stop you.
But at the very moment you take a step forward your mother finally notices your beat-up, rag-tag appearance.
“What happened? You’re completely filthy!” Your mother’s eyes constrict, you wince, Stella grins, and your father takes another sip of tea. “Where exactly have you been?”
“We were just playin’ in the field,” you say quickly, wanting to get this over with as fast as possible. Shooting a very word-filled glance at Stella, you add: “Right, Stella?”
It takes her a moment to respond. “Oh, yeah.” She nods. “We were playing hide-and-go-seek there. He was hiding, and he didn’t mean to, but he ran into a Pidgeotto –“
Panicking at the wide-eyed look your mother is getting, you say quickly: “It wasn’t anything, Mom –”
But Stella continues. “—and it attacked him –”
Yeah, it did. you think with an indignant grimace , Stupid thing. “Yea –” Wait. Wrong thing to say. NO IT DID NOT. NO IT DID NOT. NO IT DID NOT! “ — I mean, umm… it did not!”
But that was more than enough to illicit a response from your Mother who’s facial expression had turned from suspicious to horrified in thespace of five seconds -- and all because of the mere thought that a Pidgeotto attacked you, her only child.
There go the good old days of hide-and-go-seek, you think wistfully.
“He looks fine to me,” you father says, lowering his copy of the Pewter Times enough for his eyes to peek over the top of it.
“Turn around and let me look at you,” your mother says sternly, ignoring your father completely. Her tone of voice gives no room for argument. “I want to make sure you’re all right.”
But you argue anyway. What else can you do? “I’m okay, Mom! I promise.”
“I’ll be the judge of that,” she says in return. “Now turn around.”
“Turn around, please.”
Slowly, hesitantly, you turn around, trying your best to hide the lump in your t-shirt. But, just as you expected, she notices the bulge, and her eyes narrow dangerously. “What are you hiding underneath your shirt, dear?”
“I can see that. Take it out, whatever it is.”
“Don’t ‘mom’ me. Just show me.”
“I don’t think that’s a very good idea,” you say very, very slowly. You feel the Caterpie twitch inside your shirt.
“And why not?”
“Well, you’re not gonna to like it at all,” you say truthfully. “Nuh’uh, not one bit.”
This seems to arouse your father’s curiosity. As he turns a page of the newspaper, you see his eyebrows rise as he stares at you from behind his glasses. You smile at him guiltily. Somehow, you think he knows exactly what is hidden underneath your shirt.
“Maybe you should listen to him, dear,” your father says, clearing his throat rather loudly. “I don’t particularly want to be sleeping on the couch tonight just because you got upset…”
You mother looks rather irritated at your father’s statement, and you decide to take the opportunity to try and make it into your room while she’s focused on your father. Maybe you’ll be quick enough to fill up your shirt with rocks from your collection before you’re made to come down. And the Caterpie… you can hide it in your underwear drawer. Yes, that’s it! Mom would never look in there.
“Upset? Nonsense. Why would I be upset?”
“I was just saying, Claire--” Just a little bit further... and you’ll be free. Just keep going slowly so they don’t hear you… “—that I bear no responsibility whatsoever for what happens.”
“Oh for Mew’s sake….” You’re almost out of eyesight now. “And where do you think you’re going, young man.” Again, you find your flight to escape thwarted, and a few moments later you’re at the bottom of the stairs again; but this time you’re staring up at your mother, who, to your horror, has actually left the table to stand in front of you. Not good, definitely not good.
“I don’t want to tell you again…”
Your father puts the newspaper onto his lap, his chin resting on the palm of his hand while you back up a few feet for safety before relenting to your mother’s orders. You carefully nudge the Caterpie under your shirt. And slowly but surely, it peeks its head out of the mouth of your shirt. “Pi?”
Right on cue, your mother shrieks in surprise and it takes only seconds for the Caterpie’s eyes to widen and a half-second more for it to start to scream. This of course, startles your mother beyond belief, the blood draining out of her face.
Eventually, you have the sense to put your hand over the Caterpie’s small mouth, making its screams fade away into tiny, hiccupping squeaks, while your mother is doing something of the same, hand over mouth in horror.
Silence fills the now empty void, until Stella fills it once more by wriggling out of her chair and sliding underneath the oak table, overcome by a fit of mad giggles. Your mother by now has regained a little bit of her voice.
“I believe it’s a Caterpie, Claire.”
“I know that,” your mother hisses, finding her voice as she wrings her hands nervously. “But.. what is tha – that thing doing in my house?!”
“The Pidgeotto was gonna eat it! “ you try to explain, taking another few paces backward for good measure. “It’s not a monster or anything!”
“I’m not going to have one of those… filthy creatures in our home –“
“But, Mom! It’s only for a little while! A couple of days!”
‘We can’t let the stupid chicken eat it!” Stella pipes in, and for the first time today, you feel grateful towards her. “That’s bad!”
“I don’t care, you’re going to take it right back outside this instant!”
“A couple days isn’t really that long…” your father says carefully, bringing the newspaper back up in front of him, not noticing the glare of daggers he received in return for his comment. “…and it really is harmless.”
At your father’s words, you meet his eyes, the first tinge of hope sparkling in them. You smile just a bit. You know that if your mom and dad disagree on something, you can get away with a lot. So maybe…
“That thing can stay over at Stella’s –“ You clamp your hand over the Caterpie’s mouth just in time to muffle another shriek.
“It don’t li’ me,” Stella giggles brightly from under the table through a mouthful of peanut butter and jelly. “An’ it shoud stay w’ou, ‘cause it’s funny.”
“Funny... “ your mother repeats in a low tone, finally making it back over to her chair, while you stare at Stella, wide-eyed. You would have never gotten away with saying that in front of mom. You look at her nervously, just waiting for her to burst into flame.
Instead, she grimaces and takes a deep breath. “Stella, why don’t you go upstairs and eat with your cousin –” she turns to you. “—We’ll talk about this later.”
Without argument, you dash up the stairs, while Stella takes her time crawling out from underneath the table. You don’t wait for her.
Entering your room just off the side of the top of the stairway, you exhale deeply, flopping down on your bed near the window with a relieved sigh. You allow the Caterpie to wriggle out of your hold and onto the bed beside you.
Your eyes lazily follow it its progression as it crawls slowly around your blue bedcovers. It looks amazed, yet hesitant at the same time. It finally reaches the head of your bed and onto your pillow, screeching as the pillow sinks because of its weight. You giggle at the sight, wondering how anyone can be scared of a pillow. You continue to watch it as it rises from its frozen stupor, before it gives an experimental jump –
Stella then bursts through the open doorway, two sandwiches protectively clutched in her arms. She darts toward the bed without warning, making you cry out in surprise as you’re forced to scramble out of the way as Stella performs what could be compared to a belly flop, onto your bed.
Stella’s impact makes the Caterpie shriek with terror, before bolting straight into the only escape it can see: the window. The thing is, it isn’t open, and the Caterpie runs straight into it with a hard thud. To your horror, it falls straight over onto its side, and doesn’t move. This time, you are quite sure it’s not playing dead – it's fainted.
(According to your dad, Pokémon tend to do that quite a lot on the account of humans, but that does not stop you from bristling furiously at Stella, pointing at her accusingly with a finger.)
“YOU SCARED IT! You knocked it out!”
“I did not!” Her face wrinkling up in stubbornness, she throws one of the sandwiches (crumpled and rather smashed) at you. “The WINDOW did!”
“And –” you continue, intending not to leave one tiny detail out “—you broke your promise.”
Stella shakes her head. “You’re just bein’ silly! You never said I couldn’t talk about the Pidgeotto 'n stuff.”
“Girls…” you mutter under your breath, eying the sandwich with disdain. Growling at her, you throw it on the floor. “I don’t wan’ it. I’ll probably get girl disease from it!”
“There’s no such thing as girl disease!” Stella says matter-of-factly, looking rather hurt on account of the thrown sandwich. “You meanie! I brought that up for you!”
Scowling at the sad look your cousin is giving you – the kind that makes you feel bad and rotten inside -- you reach over your bed and pick up the sandwich, eying it hesitantly before stuffing a large chunk of it into your mouth. You can’t stand that doe-eyed look. Why do you always have to be the one apologizing? Why can't she for once? “Sorry.”
Her sad expression vanishes (and you wonder if her sad look was even real in the first place) and is replaced by her usual one, albeit a bit angry. “It’s fine, but you’re still a meanie.” She then crawls onto the floor, drawing meaningless circles into the carpet while finishing off her the remains of her sandwich.
Sighing, you move the still unconscious Caterpie back onto the pillow. “Mom’s not gonna lemme keep it now.”
“Uncle Will said it was okay,” Stella points out. “I heard him say so before I came upstairs…”
“But Mom says it’s not.”
Stella doesn’t answer, lying on her side, with her ear against the vent. Is she even listening?
“Shhh!” Stella hisses. “I’m trying to listen.”
Your curiosity gets the best of you despite yourself. “Listen to what?”
Stella blinks, but doesn’t move from her spot. She waits a few seconds before answering. “Aunt Claire and Uncle Will. Who else? They’re arguing – well, Aunt Claire is…”
You blink, feeling a bit hesitant. You’re curious, of course – and who wouldn’t be? But doing something like that makes you feel rather…sneaky, like when you snuck downstairs last Christmas just because you wanted to see what the presents were.
“Um… maybe you shouldn’t listen…”
“What? Oh, it’s fine,” Stella says brightly with her usual lopsided grin. “I do it all the time. My dad even showed me how… he calls it… umm… constructive eavesdropping! Yeah, that’s it!”
You blink in bewilderment. What does constructive mean anyway? “Constructive?”
“Yeah!” Stella grins, nodding sagely. “Dad says it’s constructive because you learn something about the people you listen to that makes you smarter.” By now, she looks rather contemplative. “ I think that’s how he got my mom to marry him.”
You slide onto the floor on your hands and knees. Learning’s never been classified as bad, so if you learn something, you should be okay. You reach over and tap Stella on the shoulder. “Move over. I wanna listen.”
She grins a bit, and moves to the a few inches to the side so you can lie down and listen too. Voices filter up through the vent – your mother and father’s definitely. You scowl a bit as a blast of cool air blows Stella’s blonde locks into your face.
“Move your hair,” you say gruffly, blowing the blonde strands out of your face irritably as you try to listen and pick up your parents’ dialogue.
“Not my fault my hair is in the way.”
“Yeah it is.”
“Well, my hair was there first.” She sticks out her tongue. “So nyeah!”
This time, she thwaps you on the forehead with her fist. “I said I wanna listen.”
Scowling (and pushing a few strands of hair out of your face in the process), you quiet, moving over just enough to escape most of her hair. Now that you’re trying to listen, you can easily hear your mother’s voice and your father’s deeper one from the vent.
“....why didn’t you back me up? You’re supposed to be my husband—”
“And I’m being one.” There’s a pause, and you think you hear your mother chopping something (or rather, pounding something into oblivion). You grimace and wonder if that means you’ll be having soup tonight. “However, in my own defense,” your father continues, while the chopping is more fervent, “—I did say that I bore no responsibility for whatever happened with our son just now.”
Another very vengeful chop, and a clatter of steel hitting the sink. “Ohhh… you haven’t changed a bit from when I met you, Will! You know that?”
“I suppose I’ll take that as a compliment.” A pause. “And Claire, are those supposed to be almonds for your salad?”
You can just see your mother glaring at your father – no, you think you can feel all the way up here. You wince involuntarily.
“You’re just like your brother – tricking people with your words! You say one thing, and then do another, twisting what you said before to your own ends! Will! Put that newspaper down when I’m trying to talk to you.”
Stella giggles, and you guess that your father probably did as he was told. His voice is a bit sterner now. “Don’t compare me to my brother. He learned his … talents … with words because he liked it. That’s why he’s a politician. I, however, learned it out of necessity.”
You have no clue what a politician is, but you shrug and continue listening anyway.
"If you dare bring journalism into this, I swear I'll --"
"You'll what?" your father says good-naturedly, with a laugh that probably is making your mother even more annoyed. "Stab me with that fork?"
“Well, have you also thought about what influence this might have on our child? With you twisting your words around? You are teaching him things, and he watches what you do. Just look at Stella...”
Beside you, Stella twitches, looking quite pleased with herself.
“Yes, quite the little fireball isn’t she?”
“She’s following right in her father’s footsteps –“
“I don’t think so,” your father says, and Stella begins to scowl. “But if that’s true, she’ll make a fine politician, I’m sure.”
“That is not what I was trying to say,” your mother hisses, sounded frustrated. “Stop trying to change the subject.”
A few moments pass in silence, until your mother groans.
“I’m not going to allow our child to think he can get away with everything just because you won’t back me up—”
“On the contrary, you have my full support. You are free to do with the Caterpie as you please… take it out, keep it… whatever you wish.” Your eyes widen. Isn’t Dad supposed to be on your side? “ But I said I would have no part in it. I’m not going to be the devil’s advocate. Whatever you want to do, you’ll have to enforce it yourself, because I don’t think our son is just going to take the Caterpie out himself just because you tell him to. He seems rather attached. You’ll have to do it for him and show him you mean business.”
“I – I can’t do that! I can’t possibly – there’s no way.”
“You can, just pick it up and...” You’re guessing your father left the sentence deliberately hanging for a reason.
Your mother sounds even more stressed now, and you can just imagine your father shrugging everything away. “Then just let him keep it for a few days. It really isn’t that long. And it’s not like the Caterpie is going to be chasing you around the house… I think you succeeded in scaring it half to death.”
“A few days…”
“Yes, only a few days. That is what they said, didn’t they?”
“Fine – a few days, but that’s it.”
You roll over onto your back, sighing heavily, while fighting the very urge to jump up and shout some sort of exclamation; however, Stella doesn’t bother, yelling “Ha! I told you so!” over and over again.
The Caterpie is still resting on your bed; it looks like he’s just sleeping now. A smile sneaks its way onto your face, and the atmosphere about room brightens up considerably. You don’t feel as angry at Stella as you did before, and you suppose you shouldn’t have got mad at her. But you’re not going to say that to Stella; as far as you are concerned, she still cheated again, and everything else.
“See – everything’s going to be fine! Where there’s a Will, there’s a way!”
Immediately, Stella begins to giggle at her choice of words, and your grin widely despite yourself. “Maybe.”
When Stella stops giggling, she rolls onto her back, arms behind her head, getting that thoughtful look that she only gets when she’s about to tell you to do something. “So now that Caterpie’s gonna stay at your house now, we have to think of a name!”
She pauses for a second – and only one – before responding. “That’s a good name! But it’s mine... and it’s a girl’s name anyway, and Caterpie’s not a girl.”
Your eyes narrow. “How would you know that?” you ask. “You’re not a grown-up. You’re not old enough to tell yet!”
Her smug look makes your eyes narrow once more, and she says matter-of-factly: “I know so ‘cause only boys can scream like sissies."
And at her comment, you begin to wonder what exactly you have gotten yourself into.
Families are like fudge... mostly sweet with a few nuts. ~Author Unknown
Wow! That was amazing! You've really made this 2nd person work! That last chapter was brilliant! I hope the next chapter comes soon!
Hi Saffire! *waves energetically*
I love this story on Serebii, and I love it on here! The Caterpie's personality makes it the ober-cutest Pokémon yet. And your writing style is pure gold and refreshing. Such a change with the second-person POV.
Keep on writing!
You have pretty amazing works... which is why this is the fanfiction of the month!
Schizophrenic Charmander: o.o Glad you liked it. The next chapter is coming soon.. This post in fact.
Hanako : You didn't have to review here, too! But much thanks. I appreciate it.
Akinari: *blinks a couple of times* XD Fanfiction of the month again, eh? Thanks for the honor.
A/N: Well, here’s the newest chapter of Metamorphosis – well, granted, half of it. I debated whether I should debut all of it, or part of it… as this chapter is very, very long. About 30ish pages worth of material. 0_o.. I know w hat it feels like to read long chapters, and know not everyone likes extremely long chapters. So I decided to split it into two parts. Thus, Pt. II will come next weekish, while you have this nice, shorter segment that’s a heck of a lot easier to read.
Two other things. First, I'm making a PM list for those of you who wish to be notified when a new chapter comes out. If you'd like to be added to the list, just drop a line if you haven't already.
Secondly, would it ruin any of you guy’s reading experiences if I gave you a name? (It’s not a bad one, I promise!) I don’t it to interfere with your reading and enjoyment if you think it would.
Ah, and one last note. On pronunciation, just in case…
Ian: Pronounced E (as in the letter ‘e’) –in (as in inside.) E-in.
Oh, and IceKing:
Thanks a ton! :3 <3
+ Changing Perceptions +
They say, Wishes are false, silly things, best left to the little children.
They say, Let them wish, let them dream while they can.
But it is they who have lost the dream.
Because, sometimes, wishes do come true...
All it takes is one single change of perception…
What was supposed to be only a few days soon changed into something along the lines of two weeks. Of course, in relative terms, the time spent between you, Stella, and the Caterpie (now christened Ian after a long and tiresome debate) seems more along the lines of a few days versus weeks.
And what an interesting “Few days” it has been.
You never knew ‘raising’ a Caterpie could be so immensely complicated. You never knew that there were so many things that could go wrong, nor did you realize that your own sense of logic, though it may apply to you, might not apply to what the Caterpie’s vision of reality and how it worked was. The main problem had dealt with windows – well, anything glass really.
It took you some time get the foreign concept of windows thoroughly embedded into the tiny bug-type’s brain. You tried to make him understand that you can’t pass through glass things just because it looks like you can; you have to wait until they’re open. Ian, at first, only listened respectfully to your words, shaking his head as if he knew something that you didn’t before he commencing to run into the nearest glass door a second later to try to prove a point. (It ended up proving yours, not his.)
After that happened, you couldn’t help but wonder why your mother adored her glass doors so much. People just ran into them. To Ian’s credit, he adapted pretty fast. Now he has the sense to actually check to see if you can pass through something, instead of running straight on into it.
Now, TV was a completely different ball game. He was just plain scared of it.
After watching mere seconds of the Running of the Tauros on TV, he could be found shivering in fear under your bed, and he would not come out for the life of him. You begged, you pleaded, you even tried to bait him with food. Nothing worked. He was dead on convinced that the terrifying, charging monsters with horns were just waiting to get him inside the black box. It took you and Stella a very long time to convince him that the black box was only a black box, and the Tauros weren’t real there, waiting to squish them under their hooves. Stella had been the one who cured him, having the actual courage to drag the screaming Caterpie out from under the bed, and forcefully holding him in front of the TV screen with an old recording of the Tauros event. (You had not the heart to do it yourself, and Stella ended up calling you a sissy again.)
And so the days went on, though you couldn’t help but feel that the days were too good to last. You were becoming increasingly aware of your Mother’s decreasing patience. She was getting mad at Dad a lot lately. It didn’t bother him much, but you knew what it was that she was mad over, and that worried you. You did tell your mother it would only be a few days, after all. You had long since reached that limit. You could see that your mother was frazzled over the whole experience, looking around every corner before she entered a room, as well as forbidding you to bring Ian purposely near her. If she came in the family room and you and Ian were in there, you moved. Very quickly.
The arguments between Mom and Dad were becoming more frequent (though it was more of a one-sided argument. Mom ranted while Dad listened.) and it was only yesterday you actually listened to their arguments through the vent. You learned quite a lot from that conversation – and it was not good news. You had three days left. Your Dad convinced her to let you keep Ian until your birthday was over, as, he pointed out, it would be unnecessarily mean to take him away three days before your ninth birthday.
It wasn’t close to being enough. There was so much you wanted to do still, and you weren’t even close to accomplishing it.
You wanted to take him to Vermillion’s theme park, just to see what would happen when you took him on Puff the magic Salamence and the Merry go Round, not to mention the Fun House with all those mirrors.
Since he’s not afraid of TV anymore, you wanted to take him to see a movie. Well, one that was all gumdrops and rainbows-y, as you don’t think people would appreciate an overly emotional Caterpie in the theatre.
You also wanted to take him to school, even though you’re technically not allowed, as you’re not ten yet. You think he could learn stuff there, and he’d keep many of the annoying, giggly girls away – the kind you get girl disease from even if you happen to be standing twenty feet away. They’re scared of bugs.
…. You would definitely miss having him around. Stella would, too, though you purposely didn’t tell her about your Mother and Father’s time limit. It was probably best to keep her ignorant, as she’d probably say something stupid to your parents about it. Granted, it might have turned out in your favor, but you weren’t willing to take the chance.
Because of this, you’ve been increasingly frustrated and stressed. You’ve been trying to think up some kind of diabolical scheme – something, anything, to convince your mom to let you keep Ian.
All these intense thought processes that really, really hurt your brain and give you headaches are proving to be a pretty much fruitless endeavor.
Today is no different. There’s only a day left, now. Tomorrow’s your birthday.
You grumble, waving your arms about in irritation from your position on the lush green lawn. You’re lying under the shade of the big oak tree that grows right outside your bedroom window – one of its branches actually stretches over to your windowsill. Stella climbs up the tree all the time, because it’s a funner way to get inside your room. You’ve never tried it yourself – it seems so much more practical to just use the stairs.
Your parents are gone. Your dad is at work, and your mom is at the grocery store, picking up a few decorations for your birthday party – and maybe a few presents, too, as she left you home. Ian’s upstairs somewhere, probably in your room, since he was sleeping when you first came outside.
You HAVE to do something.
You sigh, spread-eagling yourself across the soft grass, watching as the leaves of the tree sway in the gentle wind.
What would happen if you got hurt?
Like... say... fell out of a tree?
Your mom would feel bad and sorry… even though she would probably yell at you for doing something stupid… of course, everyone climbs trees at your age, so it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, would it? You wouldn’t have to tell your Mom it was on purpose, anyway. It could be an accident or something. And after she gets mad at you, she’ll feel sorry for you; and when she feels bad, she usually gives you stuff and does things she usually doesn’t do, like bringing ice cream to your room. So maybe, just maybe, she’ll let you keep Ian.
Yeah, that works.
You’ve never climbed a tree before, but it can’t be that hard. Stella does it all the time. If she can do it, you can, too. You’ll just get up to that branch by your bedroom window, and fall. Simple as that. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to break your arm or something. Casts are cool.
With a new sense of determination, you begin to scale the tree, smiling for all you’re worth.
You did it! You thought of something!
You feel so immensely proud of yourself you can hardly bottle it up so you can concentrate on climbing.
Whatever surety you had has long since flown to the four winds and beyond. All the courage, all the elation, all the feelings of grandeur – POOF! Gone. Obliterated, and it’s never coming back. You can’t move, you’re frozen.
What a horrible time to finally realize you’re very, very afraid of heights.
You’re head’s spinning, and all you can think about is how unfriendly the ground looks as your little hands clutch the tree limb by your window in a tight vice grip. You try not to look down, as it gives you a very unpleasant feeling. You feel nervous enough already – no, you’re just plain terrified.
You don’t want to fall anymore. Well, you want to be back on the ground… but not that way.
The thing is, you can’t bring yourself to move an inch. All you can do is sit and stare, petrified, flinching each time you think the tree so much as quivers. Your eyes are glued tightly shut, and the bright sun is streaming downwards through the thick tangle of branches, hitting your face. You open your eyes blearily. The bedroom window’s open, and you could probably get into it if you tried… but you don’t want to fall, and you can’t gather enough courage to move.
“I hate this…” you sigh despondently, yelling as the wind picks up. You hold on to the branch even tighter.
You raise your head up from where it was laying against the bark. Ian’s watching you from the window. Curiosity is apparent on his features, and he looks rather confused when you don’t say anything in return. You’ve almost always answered him before.
“Cattrrrr…“ he motions his head towards the television inside.
“I can’t…” you gasp, guessing it probably is 3:30 by now and your – and his – favorite show is on… You’ve been up here for a half hour already?
That thought alone makes you feel sick.
“I can’t come watch Poké Rangers with you.”
“Crra,” says Ian despondently, before brightening as the Poké Rangers theme drifts through the open window. Its heroic tune is almost mocking. Ian begins to sway on his feet, looking towards the television and then to you. He seems torn between leaving you here and watching the show, or staying at the windowsill and watching you instead. He continues to sway in an almost hypnotizing fashion before suddenly darting off onto the bed, and onto the floor as the theme song ends. Since you’re not going anywhere, he probably thought it’d be all right to leave you – quite literally – hanging out on a limb.
Probably a good thing, too, his swaying was making you feel a bit sick.
You groan, looking longingly into your room. You can do nothing but close your eyes and listen to the sound of the TV, opening your eyes only when the Caterpie screams in terror before falling over onto his back when Rita the Bannette makes an appearance. The second time you open your eyes is only to watch him squeak and jump for joy when the pink Poké Ranger with the Latias zord comes to save the day. (He’ll only jump for her, for some reason or another.)
Time ticks by, and you are become aware of a voice, singing and coming your way. You turn you head ever-so-slightly to the left, and open your eyes enough to notice that Stella is coming up the driveway, singing some nonsense song she probably made up. She stops midway up the driveway, and looks up. She doesn’t say anything for a few seconds as you hurriedly look away from the ground, as the freezing, scary feeling takes hold of you again. You barely notice she’s waving at you.
You expect her to go in the house, but she doesn’t. Much to your dismay, she begins to head towards the oak tree.
She couldn’t be going to…
Oh, yes she is. She’s climbing up the tree.
You begin to panic. What if her weight makes you fall off?
“STAY AWAY!” you whine, sounding like an unhappy puppy. She’s getting to the top branches now, and she shows no signs of stopping, clambering up the tree with all the dexterity of a cat.
“Why?” her voice asks.
“‘Cause… “ you squeak. “I’m trying to do something.”
She stops on the next branch, and your body heaves with relief. “Tryin’ to do what?”
“Fall?” she echoes. “Why would you want to do that?”
You wince. Why did you even want to do this in the first place? “Just ‘cause.”
There’s no way you’re telling her you’re afraid of heights. She’ll call you a sissy again.
“Well, you’re doing a bad job!”
You don’t answer her, and she resumes her ascent. “I can help you fall if you want.”
Your shout stops her in her tracks, as well as brings Ian over to the windowsill again. Must be a commercial break. His eyes go wide as he looks downwards. “Squuuueeee!”
“Stop screamin’, you big sissy! It’s just me!” Stella says hotly, glaring at Ian, who quiets with only a half-hearted peep. She waits from her place on limb, moving into a sitting position as she straddles it. You can hear her tapping her foot impatiently. “Well?” she says. “Are you going to fall or not? ‘Cause if you’re not, I’m not staying here. I don’t wanna sit here all day y’know.”
Since when did you falling become a spectator sport?
“You’re scared, aren’t you?” Stella says, her blue eyes glimmering with sudden understanding. “Ah, c’mon. Falling’s not that hard. All you have to do is go this way –“ She begins to lean to the left, and you blanch. “-and let go. Then BAM! –“ She says it with such gusto you almost let go of the branch in surprise, while Ian ducks behind the windowsill, allowing only the very top of his head to peek over. “--you SLAM into the ground! And then it’s all over. Easy, huh?”
The Caterpie seems to have put two and two together, and is working himself into a fit of mini hysterics, while all you can do is watch countless replays of you falling and “smashing” into the ground (with a loud, cartoonish thud no less) over and over again. It’s not a pretty sight, and it does not please you in the least. You’re fast becoming pale at the scenario your mind’s eye cooked up.
“I don’t think I wanna fall anymore…” you whimper quietly. Stella has to strain herself to hear you. You’re still scared half out of your wits, and all you want right now is to have your two feet planted firmly on the ground, unscathed.
“Mmmhmm…” Your face pales even more when you notice Stella is starting to scramble upwards again. Slowly, branch by branch, she pulls herself up until she’s just under you. She’s winking. The nerve of her. “We’re going to have to get you down then, huh?”
You scowl. “Not if you’re gonna push me.”
“I’m not going to push him,” growls Stella, with a glare that shuts Ian up in seconds. Your grip around the branch tightens considerably as Stella finally pulls herself onto yours. The branch holds, despite the added weight. It’s thick enough to hold the two of you.
Somehow, Stella moves around you, not showing the slightest degree of hesitation in crawling to the middle of the outstretched bough. Her balance is perfect, and it takes only seconds for her to sit down with each of her legs dangling over one of the branch’s sides. She beams at you cheekily, obviously quite proud at her show of dexterity.
“See, you just gotta crawl. Just follow me slowly, and count to five, and you’ll be there! It’s easy as 1, 2,3,4,5!”
You don’t move even when Stella reaches the other side, safely crawling through the window. When she turns around, she notices that you haven’t been following her. This obviously irritates her, as she plops onto your bed with her arms tightly crossed along her chest. Ian is just a few feet back beside her, wary.
“C’mon! You sissy!”
“M’not a sissy,” you say, inching yourself forward by a very small margin.
“Yes you are. If a girl can do it and a boy can’t, that means he’s a sissy, you know.”
Another inch goes by, while you force yourself to concentrate only the limb before you. You think you’re going to be cross-eyed if you ever manage to get across.
Stella’s still egging you on, but you try and tune out her taunting. Instead, humming your own, ceaseless mantra of “don’t look down, don’t look down.”
A lot of good that does you, you realize. That just makes you want to look down. When you do, it seems as though you’re going to fall that instant, while your vision lurches dangerously.
Four in a half…
You want to stop, but you know you have to keep going. The bark is chafing the skin on your palms and the parts of your leg not covered up by your shorts. You’re almost there.
You're almost there, so close to the window. You slowly rise on your knees so you can latch on to the windowsill -
Then, you're hit by a sudden blast of wind, and you wave your arms, trying to maintain balance as you teeter. In the background, you can hear Ian screaming, and you find yourself leaning over to the left as you try to maintain balance... and then, to your utmost horror, you feel yourself falling.
You don't even have time to scream.
Something sticky suddenly catches your leg, as you fall, shoulder first out of the tree. It gives a single second of resistance, and for that single second, you feel hope.
You're not going to die.
And then, it's gone, and you plummet like a stone all the way to the ground, landing on your butt with a hard thud. Your body soon follows suit, collapsing onto the grass. You're breathing hard, as if you've been running, and your heart is beating a mile a minute. You feel dazed, and your vision is still spinning.
And your butt hurts.
Slowly, your eyes whip back into focus, and you notice Stella is leaning out the window, with the Caterpie scampering down the oak tree. You stare at Stella blankly. You feel a distinct pang of dissapointment. You didn't even get a broken arm. You fell out of that tree for nothing. Your mom’s going to be home soon, and there’s going to be nothing left to convince her to let you keep Ian. And your birthday is tomorrow.
"Wasn't it fun?" you hear Stella yell.
You then have the sudden urge to push her out the window and let her see how it feels.
“See that? Those are called streamers,” you say as you come down the stairs the next afternoon, you face literally glowing as you watch your father put up the birthday decorations. Ian is perched on your shoulder, looking amazed, his black eyes wide with wonder. You then point your finger to the giant blue and red banner strung across the archway just above the stairs. “And that’s my birthday banner.”
“Ian probably doesn’t know what a birthday is,” your father says from his place on the ladder, taping up the blue and green streamers to go along with the red and yellow ones. “He’s a Pokémon after all, and I highly doubt his species celebrates birthdays.”
“Oh.” Ian doesn’t know what a birthday is? That alone is an odd concept to you, as everybody has one. It never occurred to you that maybe Pokemon don’t celebrate birthdays like humans do. Well, you’re just going to have to teach him all about it, then. “They put the banners and streamers up because it’s my birthday. You have to have them for your birthday; a birthday is when you have a big party for the day you’re born, because it’s special.”
Ian makes another disgruntled noise, still looking confused. In the other room, you can hear your mother frantically working to make sure the dining room is absolutely spotless before any guests arrive. She hasn’t come into the kitchen yet, and you think she’ll be in the dining room for a while so you’re relatively safe with having the Caterpie seated on your shoulder. “You get presents n’ stuff, too,” you tell him, as you walk around the kitchen, almost wishing you could have your birthday dinner in here instead. “That’s the most important part – well, it’s my favorite part.”
Everyone’s coming today for your birthday dinner, too – well, Stella and her family are. Even her father’s coming. Stella told you that he was yesterday excitedly over the phone. She was talking so fast you could barely understand her. All the rest of your family can’t come though. Your dad has only one sibling, and all of Mom’s family lives over in Vermillion and couldn’t make it. Your Dad’s parents are on Safari over in Fuchsia, so they couldn’t come either.
“Presents,” you continue, since if the Caterpie doesn’t know about birthdays, you’re very sure he probably doesn’t know about presents either, “are gifts where you give something of yours that you buy or make to someone else because you care about ‘em and appreciate them n’ stuff and want to be nice. And even if you don’t like someone and go to their birthday party, you have to do it anyway because it’s the nice thing to do.”
The Caterpie nods slowly, scuttling over to the other side of your shoulder in one, quick movement. He’s looking at the banner again. You smile brightly. “I can read what that says! You want to know what it says?” Ian nods. “It says Happy Birthday on it. See —“ you then point to each individual letter, calling each by name as you point. “— H-A-P-P-Y B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y. It says that, doesn’t it, Dad?”
You begin to sway ever so slightly on your feet, looking at the happy birthday banner, while putting your arms behind your back, remembering that you wanted to ask your dad something very important. “Hey, Dad?”
“Can Ian come to the party, and have cake and ice cream and help me open presents, too?”
Your father blinked dubiously, pushing up his glasses to the bridge of his nose as he considers your question. “I’m not sure… Go ask your mother.”
You take a few steps back, watching his every movement. “Why? I asked you.”
“Because I happen to want to come to my son’s birthday party.”
You blink. You don’t get it. “But… if you say yes, then mom can’t say no, because you’re Dad.”
Your father laughs, though you don’t quite understand why he did. What you said was right, wasn’t it? “That's not technically true. Even I have to do what your Mother says—” He winks. “—or else Dad gets in big trouble.”
You giggle. “Like the time-out couch?”
“Yes, like the time-out couch.”
“Still, you sure you can’t just say yes?”
Your dad shakes his head, and your heart sinks. “Very sure. It’ll be fine – just go ask your mother and see what she says about it.”
You begin to shake your head rapidly, and Ian, sensing your agitation, begins to mimic you. Your father’s eyebrows quirk upward at the sight. “YOU ASK!” you say, pointing to Ian who is perched on your shoulder, still shaking his head back and forth.
“Point taken…” He clears his throat. “Claire…”
“What?! I’m a little busy here!”
“Can our son bring Ian to –“
If your father was at all affected by your mother’s very loud outburst, he doesn’t so it. “Your mother says no.”
“Because that’s what your Mother says. You’ll just have to keep Ian up in your room during the party.”
Your face sinks, and you stare at Ian, who, though startled by the outburst, doesn’t seem to quite understand what’s going on. Your father notices this, and climbs down from the later, surveying his work. “Don’t look so glum. You’re going to make the clouds rain with that face. You don’t want that to happen, do you?”
You shake your head glumly. “No…”
You know you’re dad’s trying to cheer you up though, and you know he means the best by it. But the dark thoughts that are drifting at the back of your mind won’t go away. What if this is the last day you’ll see him? It’s not fair if he has to stay cooped up in your room on your birthday. Mom may be scared of bugs, but what is Ian going to do?
You look up, not realizing you were staring at the floor.
“Why did you name the Caterpie Ian? It’s a strange name for a kid to think up.”
“Well,” you say, thinking back to last week, when you and Stella had that argument, “Stella wanted to name Ian after a flower ‘cause she likes flowers, and she said it’d fit.”
“Ah,” your father mutters, “that fits quite well…” You glare at him. It’s not funny. Your father grins apologetically, and gestures you to continue on with your tale.
“Anyway, I said no. Ian’s a boy, and boys don’t get named after flowers. So, we argued a lot, and then Stella tried to get Ian to tell us his name himself, but she got him upset, and he started screaming – Stella really was scary, Dad – but when Caterpie started screaming, Stella got an idea. She said, ‘lets call him ‘Ian’ because he goes “IEEEEEE” all the time.’”
You’re father doesn’t laugh, but you can tell he finds it amusing by the way his eyes look. “I see,” he says, shaking his head.
“You don’t like the name?”
“No, I think it fits perfectly.”
Then, he laughs, and you can’t help but feel better.
“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” –Abraham Lincoln
Just recently, Mr. Akinari and Ms. Lily are both recently promoted and will be busy with their new modding duties, while Mr. Frostweaver seems to have set off for school related business... Ms. Negrek, Ms. Hanako Tabris and Ms. Kazeto Tamashii seem to be online at the moment either. Since Naminé promised Ms. Lily to help out in reviewing as the board lacks reviewer,guess that Ms. Sapphire Persian will have to make do with Naminé's third rate reviewing skills~ Pray that Ms. Sapphire Persian will not mind?
Naminé will try her best to match all those great writers and reviewers in their skills and experience~
Reviewing everything in the order of occurence:
The opening poem doesn't seem to flow too well, as it didn't really click to Naminé. Unfortunately, Naminé does not know much about how to write poetry, so she fails to provide a possible way for improvement on this matter...
"(But the Viridian Forest has many places to hide.)" does it really need the brackets? Naminé thinks that it should be fine without...
The "it" after "(You think. You know. You want to hope.)" needs to be capitalized due to the period. Surely it is only a silly mistake though, as the story is very enjoyable so far. Caterpie is adorable, as always~ So cute... ^-^
(End of Changing Circumstances Pt. I) Naminé really liked the unique second person a lot, but perhaps that maybe due to her biased love for anything absurd, as shown by her personal third person talk. The story gave Naminé a very realistic feeling, since the story skillfully combined this world with the Pokemon world. It incorporated a daily life type of scenario, talking about the usual conflicts between little children, and how it happened in the Pokemon world. Though some may complain that there is a lack of action, Naminé always like these little nitpicks of life. It's interesting in its own right, and they are usually very strong in character details and backgrounds too. The choice of words and structure really show a sense of innocense and childish thinking within it too, so it makes it relate to the boy and Stella quite a bit. It is very fitting.
Let's move on to the next part then?
(End of Changing Circumstances Pt. II) Again, the daily little specks of life is what makes a story so real to Naminé, so of course this is a very enjoyable read once more. To a certain extent, the story reminds Naminé of her uncles and aunts too... Not the standard adventure story, but like the quote at the end, it was focusing on family. Instead of talking about some legendary quests or heroes, the story is talking about the usual nobodies in the Pokemon World and their normal life. Naminé likes it~
This poem is a lot better flow and somehow clicks better to Naminé... but like what she said before, she is no expert on poems (or on anything.)
"you knew what it was that she was mad over, and that worried you." Naminé thinks that throughout the story there are a few cases where a word is used more frequently than it should. Perhaps it is the second person that's making it weird and difficult to use new words often? For example, in the quoted sentence, Naminé thinks that it is better if the first "that" is replaced with Caterpie. She thinks that it is better if a word is not repeated so often, so the word seems fresh whenever it is used. It may bore the readers if a word is used over and over again~
"If your father was at all affected by your mother’s very loud outburst, he doesn’t so it. " Perhaps it means "doesn't show it?" Naminé thinks that is what it should be written as...
"from the later" from the ladder, perhaps?
(end of Changing Perceptions) Once again, it is no surprise to Naminé by now that she loves the chapter. Same style, same anything as always... she loved the pansy joke at the end. Ian would be extra cute if he is named Pansy~
It is only a huge straining factor for Naminé's curiosity if she does not get to find out who the narrator is for the story... surely it'll be interesting to know. Also, she wonders if there is any connection between this story and the Metamorphosis book in real life? Usually authors search for an original title that isn't taken by any other fanfics or any real books in existance, so why Metamorphosis...?
[alt account of Lily?]
Thanks for your review! I'm happy for whatever reviews I get, and I'm very appreciative that you decided to do so.
Let's move on to the next part then?
Also, he word metamorphosis is also connected to change, and I intend to show the change in the characters as they grow up. (About to age 22 give or take)... Not to mention, Ian's a caterpillar himself. ;
I hope that explains it.
Is this Pokemon-related? Or does it not have to be?
Just letting you know that I is reading it, I read the first part, then I got busy. -.- Life is cruel. XD
"To ride a horse is to ride the sky."
Possession - Winner of Fic of the month! (September... 2006) xD
Katiekitten: Ooh, Thanks.
And as an off note, only about three more chapters left for the Childhood stage. (Changing Circumstances was one, Perceptions is number two).
+Changing Perceptions Pt. II+
They say, Wishes are false, silly things, best left to the little children.
They say, Let them wish, let them dream while they can.
But it is they who have lost the dream.
Because, sometimes, wishes do come true...
All it takes is one single change of perception…
When six o’clock finally comes around, you can do little to contain your rising excitement. You barely even sit still. Ian is obviously excited too, turning about in tight circles beside you on your bed. Sometimes, he even jumps up and down for no apparent reason. He’s just happy because you’re happy, you suppose.
You grin. The attitude has been rather infectious – it’s been going around all day.
You continue to watch the sidewalk from your bedroom window, glancing at the clock once every ten seconds to check on the time. You can’t wait! There’s going to be cake, there’s going to be ice cream, there’s going to be games, you’re going to be surrounded by family…
AND there’s going to be PRESENTS!
You snap to the clock and back. 6:05… what’s taking them so long?
Then, right on cue, you see them.
You know it’s them, even if they’re little but tiny black figures in the distance. As they come closer up the street, you can easily make out Uncle Todd and Aunt Irene. Stella’s riding on Uncle Todd’s shoulders, talking animatedly with her dad, while Diane is walking just behind her parents, hands in her jean pockets. Both sisters are clad in tye-dye t-shirts. They made them the other day – at least, that was what Stella had told you over the phone.
Hardly able to restrain your excitement, you jump off the bed, startling Ian so much he accidentally dashes straight into your bed’s headboard. He’s used to running into things by now, though, so you know he’s okay. You wave a good-bye, as you know everyone is going to arrive at the front door soon, and you want to be the one to answer the door. Your pace quickens into a run, you’re almost out of your bedroom --
You stop. Ian’s following you, looking as happy and excited as you do. When you stop, he runs in circles around your feet. He even starts to squeal when the doorbell rings. You’re unable to look him in the eyes, diverting your attention to a picture on the wall. A leaden feeling is creeping into your stomach while the feelings of euphoria is ebbing away. You can’t help but feel immensely guilty. You know it’s not your fault, you’re doing what your mom and dad told you to do, but… it feels wrong, and it hurts, almost – like you’ve fallen out of that oak tree again.
“You can’t come… sorry.”
He’s standing just at your feet now, looking up at you with those big, black eyes. He’s confused, and he takes a few steps backward.
“I said you can’t come to the party... I’m sorry, but you heard what Dad said.”
You walk out of your door, only to stop again as Ian still insists on following you. “I said stay!” Your voice takes on a hard, firm tone. You feel like hitting yourself for using such a tone, but you have to get the message acrossed. “You have to stay! Mom’s scared of you, so she won’t let you come.” Ian’s head lowers, a small, melancholy squeak coming out of his tiny body. You lower your voice, and you try and put on a smile for him. “I said I’m sorry, but I’ll be up tonight and tell you all about it, okay? The TV’s on, so you can watch Poké Rangers all you want.”
Ian still looks said, like a baby Growlithe who’s just been abandoned and left out in the rain. You tell him you’re sorry again, before closing the door to your room. The sound seems to echo. You can’t take the chance for him coming down, or your Mom will have a fit, so you had to close the door.
You can hear familiar voices coming from the kitchen as you slowly go down the stairway.
But even as you go, you can’t help but wonder if Ian is still staring forlornly at the door.
When you arrive downstairs, you find your Mom and Aunt Irene talking in the kitchen, as they prepare the finishing touches for the birthday dinner. Your Mother’s doing most of the talking, chattering away like she always does. Dad always says that she’s the only person he knows of who could hold a normal conversation even if she was stuck in a room with only herself and a mirror. And with Aunt Irene as quiet as she is, it’s about the same thing. How Aunt Irene turned out to be Stella’s mother, you can’t understand.
You haven’t been around her much, she’s always watching you and Stella play from the kitchen window when you go over. She hardly talks, though from what Stella tells you, she’s pretty strict. She looks nothing like Stella or Diane either, and if you weren’t as familiar with her as you are, you might’ve found her a bit scary, since she’s pretty pale and all, and seems to be tired all the time. Even so, you think she’s pretty nice.
You survey the brightly decorated kitchen, a smile finally beginning to replace your frown. Everything imaginable has been adorned with some kind of birthday décor, not a single wall has been left untouched. Streamers of assorted colors run down from every corner of the room, and on the counter you can see the chocolate cake. You want to eat that right now, but you know that you have to wait until after dinner.
Uncle Todd, and everybody else are in the other room next to the dining room, and you move quickly to join them, walking through the dining room to the living room where everyone else is. You can already hear Stella and your Uncle – they have such loud voices it’s not hard to notice, and you think you can see Diane talking with your dad.
Uncle Todd notices you at once, slapping your shoulder with his hand, stopping you from proceeding further. “How’s the birthday been, kid? Had a good day?”
You nod, while Stella shifts slightly, looking down at you from her perch. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”
“That’s right. Nine years old, can you believe it? You’re getting so big. Why, you’ll be taller than Stella soon. You’d like that now, wouldn’t you?”
That idea of finally being taller than Stella brings a wishful grin to your face; you’ve always been shorter than Stella. Stella’s countenance, however, is just the opposite: hers is inviting storm clouds. Scowling at her father from atop his shoulders, she wriggles, and slides off his back. With a determined face, she marches up to you, staring you straight in the eyes. You have the urge to back up, just in case she decides to give you her usual “birthday bop” on the head.
“You’re not taller than me,” she says shrewdly, measuring your respective heights with her hand. “See, you’re this high” – she makes a gesture with her hand. Apparently, the top of your head doesn’t even meet her chin. “--I’m THIS high –”
“So what?” Diana voices from her corner, deviating from her conversation with your dad. “No matter how tall you are, you’ll always be a brat.”
Stella’s head snaps around, and you back away. She huffs, puffing up like she usually does. “Not listening!”
Stella then grabs your wrist and proceeds to drag you into the adjoining room. “NOT LISTENING!” She only lets go of you upon entering. You give her an odd look, spotting your presents resting on the chair just a few feet in front of you. You’re quite satisfied with the number you’ve received this year, it looks like you’re getting a few more than last year. As with every child, you want to open them, but unlike most, you don’t run to tear them open. After all, you’ve waited a year for your birthday, so a few more hours won’t hurt. You can wait.
Stella, apparently, cannot.
“Come help me see what your presents are!” Stella’s already standing next to the chair, taking one of the longer presents in her hands, bringing it to her ear, and shaking it.
“You’re not supposed to do that,” you hiss, making a movement to snatch your present away from her. “It’s supposed to be a surprise. You don’t ruin surprises, stu –“
The present Stella was holding is thrown into your awaiting arms, almost hitting your face. Stella seems to have disregarded all that you’ve said and merely announces: “Clothes!”
You have only just enough time to catch another, smaller package as Stella wantonly throws it over her shoulder (after predicting it to be a pack of legos). If you didn’t have your hands full, you would’ve fled to the other room, stopping your ears to keep from being spoiled. You don’t like to try and find out what your birthday presents are – after that time you did it at Christmas, you never wanted to be un-surprised again.
After all, it makes opening presents incredibly boring.
“Stop it!” you tell her again. “I’ll find out what they are later… don’t tell me.”
“I didn’t say I was right or anything,” she answers, shaking another gift-wrapped box. “I just said I was guessing. You can still guess after you’ve guessed. This way, you’ll know what to open first. I’m doing you a favor!”
Her logic completely fails you, and only the idea that there may be something breakable in the boxes keeps you in the same room with her, haphazardly catching them as Stella tosses them aside. You try to tune out her shouts, focusing your attention on the conversation going on in the other room.
“---I’ve heard from my daughter here that you have a new guest in your house.”
Guest? You barely have time to dodge a pair of pokéball print socks.
“You must mean Ian,” you hear your father answer. “He’s a temporary guest… I suppose you could say.”
Temporary… that word alone tastes like ash in your mouth.
“Where is the little hero – I want to shake his hand…er…pat his head… or whatever you do with those things, and congratulate him from getting away from your wife without a scratch. I thought he’d be with your son – heard they’re rather attached…”
“Ian’s upstairs,” your dad tells him. “Claire wouldn’t let [spoil] Shawn [/spoil] bring him to the party.”
“Same old Claire – no heart at all. It’s her son’s birthday, and she can’t even allow him to bring his first Pokémon to the party.”
There’s a pause. Then Diane speaks up. “Aunt Claire probably wouldn’t have a heart if he brought Ian to the table, Dad. She’d probably have a heart attack or something …”
“Which leads me to my next question,” Uncle Todd says, his voice rising in volume. “How did you get away with it?”
“Get away with what?”
“You know what I’m talking about, stop trying to play stupid. It may have worked when we were kids, but not now. Oh, come on. Fine, we’ll start small. How about how you managed to convince your wife to let the Mewforsaken thing stay? I find that to be a miracle in itself.”
“I told her it’d be a good learning experience.”
“‘A good learning experience?’” A loud, barking laugh. “For whom? Your kid or your wife?”
“Both,” your dad says, and you can hear sounds of movement. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll help Claire bring the food in. I trust you can entertain yourself.”
You think you can hear Uncle Todd mumbling something under his breath as your dad’s footsteps fade away. You quickly turn around just in case somebody decides to come your way. You don’t want it to look like you were eavesdropping or anything like that. You happen to turn around just in time to spot an object flying through the air, directly at your face.
You don’t, however, have time to block it.
“You’re supposed to catch it!” Stella’s shouts as you sink to the floor, rubbing your face where the… --You look -- … book hit you. You let the presents you were holding fall onto the tan carpet. Your eyes are watering from the stinging pain, though you’re determined not to cry. Getting hit by a book – your birthday present no less – was not what you had in mind. Stella, meanwhile, continues to go rifle your presents as though nothing had happened.
You pick up the book (labled The Pessimistic Poochyena), as the pain began to fade a little. You, eye it almost vindictively, before an idea pops into your head. Normally, you’re not supposed to hit girls… but you can do pretty much whatever you want on your birthday, right? With her back turned, she’ll never see you coming. It’ll teach her not to rifle through your stuff.
You throw the book at the exact moment Uncle Todd decides to enter into the room. It takes you a moment to realize Uncle Todd is standing there, and when you do, you can’t help but look up at him sheepishly, a fake grin on your face.
The book continues its course through the air, and you wait for the impact, but it never comes. The book misses Stella by a hairs-width, hitting a chair instead. You don’t understand how she managed to dodge it with her back turned, and you refuse to admit that maybe it was because you can’t aim right. You scowl. You can tell she’s mocking you even if she doesn’t say anything verbally.
Uncle Todd is shaking his head, while Diane, no doubt drawn by the commotion, also comes into the room. “Hitting on my daughter already, are you?”
You blink. “Stella hits me all the time.”
“Dad…” Diane’s tone is rather annoyed, and you have the distinct feeling she gets something you don’t. But by instinct, you know not to ask. It’s probably some ‘teenager’ thing, as your Dad puts it. “They’re cousins.”
“It happened all over the place in Medieval times, you know.”
Diane’s rolls her eyes, before running a hand through her blonde hair. “You’re are so going to corrupt their innocent little minds.”
“They’re eight and nine years old,” your uncle retorts with a shrug. “I’m corrupting no one. They don’t understand a thing.”
You continue to rub your nose, quite oblivious to what’s going on, until your uncle calls your name, and you look up.
“So, kid, how’s your Dad been?”
“Good,” you say, eying Stella, whose pace has slowed a bit. She seems stuck on a package with red wrapping paper. Your eyes narrow, and you can’t help but wonder why Uncle Todd has stopped her from opening your presents yet. But then again, he never has.
Uncle Todd’s frowning. You don’t think you gave him the answer he wanted.
“Okay... I’ll try to make things simple. Has your Dad been sleeping well lately?”
You give him a rather odd look.
“So…” Diane’s leaning against the wall now. “…because you can’t get what you want out of Uncle Will, you’re going to interrogate his kid?”
He turns to face Diane for only a brief moment. ““I’m not interrogating the kid, Diane. I’m merely extracting useful information for later use.” He sinks to knees. You’re now eye-to-eye. So… how about it? Where has he been sleeping lately? The couch, I suspect...”
You bristle. “Dad’s not in trouble!” you say hotly, knowing very well what the ‘c’ word means. Todd’s already trying to rectify his words, but you don’t let him get a word in. “Mom didn’t make him do that or anything! She just made him sleep outside the door beca –“
“AHA! I knew it!”
Uncle Todd stands up rather abruptly, an odd gleam entering his sharp eyes. You scowl, because he cut you off, and you’re not supposed to do that. Dad’s not in trouble! Sure, your mom has yelled at him, but he hasn’t been in big, big trouble like you’ve seen him get into before. “He was guarding the door for mom!” you tell Uncle Todd, face flushing with irritation. “He was protecting her!”
Uncle Todd’s laughing. It makes you rather angry. “Protecting her? From what?”
“Bed bugs,” you say firmly, making sure not to break eye contact.
“Ahuh.” You can tell he doesn’t believe you, but it’s true. “More like he was trying to salvage what remained of his manly pride after Claire kicked him out. Ha! I knew there was more to it. There was now way he could get away with siding with you over that Caterpie, no matter what excuse. What will he say to me now, eh? Learning experience… just wait ‘till Claire hears that.”
Immediately, Todd disappears out of the room, looking like a Persian who has just found a nest of baby Rattata. Diane, who was shaking her head the entire time, is quick on her father’s heels. Already, you can hear Uncle Todd yelling something from the kitchen, which are followed by some very loud exclamations from your mother. She sounds mad.
You hope that wasn’t the sound of breaking dishes.
If it is, you won’t be eating any time soon.
“What’s ‘manly pride?’” you ask, as Stella crawls across the gift-strewn carpet, finished with her investigations.
She shrugs. “I dunno.” Her head peeks around the corner. You don’t want to look. “But it must be important, ‘cause I think they’re fighting over it right now.”
The birthday cake is lit – all nine candles are burning brightly just in front of you while the familiar happy birthday tune echoes around your ears. You’re happy, yet embarrassed the same time. You can’t help but flush a light shade of red as the song continues (with Stella singing her own, orthodox tune.) Dinner was wonderful, and though your mom and uncle seemed a little flustered, everything went along fine.
You wait until the song reaches its second (and last) verse, before taking a deep breath – you intend to blow out every single candle in one shot, before Stella can even have the idea of stealing your wish away from you. You have a very special wish in mind this time, and you don’t want Stella to have it.
The song ends, you close your eyes, and blow.
All nine candles flicker dimly in the darkened room before snuffing out.
Everyone applauds. Even Stella.
“What did you wish for?” she whispers from where she’s sitting beside you, a pink party hat on top of her head.
“Not telling.” She begins to protest. “I can’t tell you or the wish won’t come true.”
Stella seems to accept this, nodding sagely.
It’s your wish after all.
It’ll be a secret. Your secret.
Already, you can hear your dad beginning the usual birthday tradition of wishes. Whenever it’s someone’s birthday, everyone else has to make a wish for that person. You don’t think these wishes come true all the time, but you’re quite sure some of them do.
“I – I mean your mother and I,” your dad begins, after being elbowed by your mother. “Wish you many more happy birthday and we wish you all the happiness in the world, and we hope your life will be a very satisfying one, and you’ll become the person you want to be. And even when you’re a teenager, I hope you never forget that we care about you very much.”
It’s fast getting mushy and sentimental, but luckily, Diane’s up next, as the circle goes clockwise. Her eyes are half-closed in thought, and Aunt Irene looks a bit nervous. Diane rests her chin on her hands, looking deeply contemplative, before saying in her usual, monotone voice: “I wish you… infinite social wisdom.”
“Your wish sucks!” Stella yells, her small face looking very much indignant. “You can’t do anything with that! It’s a stupid wish.”
“I don’t suppose you can do any better.”
“Yeah I can!” Stella retorted, her face scrunching up in thought. She then turns to you, her face bright with sudden enlightenment, while her smile is wide. You cringe. That look of hers is never good. “I wish many more happy birthdays and a new baby sister!”
Your mother begins to choke on her drink, breaking into a fit of loud coughs, while Todd erupts into his usual barking laughter. You blink, wrinkling your nose as you contemplate the wish – do you really want a baby sister? Aunt Irene looks mortified as your father, meanwhile, continues to pat your mother on the back as she continues to cough.
“You know,” he says, “I’ve always wanted a daughter.”
That only makes your Mother cough harder, and she’s turning a very bright red. Is she all right?
“You do?!” Stella’s grin multiplies a hundred-fold. “Then I wish you twin sisters, or even triplets, or quadruplets or quintu – ta –“
“Quintuplets,” Uncle Todd says through a laugh.
“Some wish.” Diane snorts. “I wished for the same thing eight years ago, and look at what happened.” Not bothering to stop, Diane continues on, her expression not having changed an inch. “Besides, I don’t think that’s very realistic, Stel. Quintuplets don’t just come around every day.”
Stella cocks her head, looking confused. She then glances over to her father. “But Daddy says babies are easy to ma –“
Immediately, Stella’s comment is cut off as Diane’s hand closes over Stella’s mouth, muffling whatever Stella said into an inaudible rumble.. “Whoa, slow down, Sis. You’re going wayyyy too far down the in the deep, dark tunnels of adulthood.” Stella’s fast turning red in the face, looking extremely furious. “Besides, they can’t actually choose whether they get a bunch of little girls, what happens if they’re all boys, eh, Stel?”
Though the question was aimed at Stella, your father answers anyway. “Well, then we’d have our own little baseball team, wouldn’t we, Claire?”
Your mother finally stops choking on her drink enough to hiss out a quick reply between her teeth. She’s absolutely glaring at your father, while her fist makes impact with the wood table. The glasses shudder. “We. Do. Not. Discuss. Family. Planning. At. The. Dinner. Table.”
Your mother's comment is followed by a yelp of pain from Diane, as Stella finally frees herself of her sister’s grip, looking triumphant. Diane’s rubbing her hand, a murderous glint making its way into her eyes. “You little brat, bite me will you –“
“Stella, you don’t bite your sister.”
“SHE started it –“
“AND I’LL FINISH IT, TOO!”
“Both of you, quite acting like –“
“Eight-year-olds?” Diana mutters under her breath while Stella sticks out her tongue.
“You taste bad ‘N-e-way.”
“Both of you,” Aunt Irene hisses. “Stop it this instant.”
“Let them fight, it builds the sisterly relationship. Will and I fought all the time, and it did us good in the long run.”
Just then as luck (or misfortune) would have it, you birthday party is interrupted by a startling crack. A figure appears in a bright flash of bright light – so bright in blinds you for a few moments. As you blink away the white haze in front of your eyelids, you realize that a very odd, humanoid creature is standing – no floating – before you. It’s a Kirlia, with a definite, gaunt look upon its features. All talk has quieted, and both Diane and Stella are wearing identical scowls.
“Lavender’s come to take Daddy away again,” Stella says to you under her breath, as she glares daggers at the Kirlia. “It’s not fair at all.”
You think you’ve seen this Kirlia around once or twice, but never this close. And, judging by its extremely cold gaze, you’re kind of glad you don’t. You immediately try to clear all thought as its stony gaze drifts towards yours – as you are quite sure that it can read your mind, but it soon turns away as Uncle Todd captures its attention.
“What do you want, Lavie?” he says, an apparent strain in his voice. “And at this time of night. I told you I had other engagements tonight. Didn’t you pass that on?”
Forgive me for disturbing this…. Family event. The telepathic communication seems to resonate through the air. Lavie sounds anything but sorry – it has a mean voice. Blank and mechanical almost. But it is of great importance. We need you now… there is… some trouble.
“Trouble? Bah – Matt’s gone a dug a big pit for himself, hasn’t he?”
The Kirlia doesn’t answer, or even if it does, you can’t hear it.
“I knew it! If I told him once, I’ve told him a thousand times…. He just doesn’t listen to a single word of what I tell him. He got into some sort of fight did he?”
I will give you the details as we Teleport to Cinnabar Island. What needs to be said cannot be discussed here… amongst your mate and family. It is urgent, and we need you now. You’re the only one who can solve this.
“It has to be now?”
Now, the Kirlia replies, with a tone of finality.
You continue to watch as your Uncle sighs and stands up, not looking happy at all. He looks rather angry, in fact, and you’ve never seen your Uncle Todd angry; he usually laughs things off with his booming voice. Aunt Irene mutters something that you can’t hear to your Uncle, looking surprisingly stern and angry, too. You can’t help but notice Stella’s crestfallen expression.
“Stupid Lavender gets to spend more time with Daddy than I do.”
“Stel –” you begin, unsure of what to say, but she starts to speak again.
“I’m sorry, Princess, but I have to go.”
“But you promised! You said you’d come to [spoil]Shawn’s [/spoil] birthday party with us. You can’t let mean old Lavender –“ At this, the Kirlia’s eyes flash. “--take you away.”
“Politics wait for no one, I’ve told you that. It’s a mean old dragon with fangs and claws.” The darkening frown turns into a smirk. “And Daddy’s got to teach a certain stupid knight not to pick a fight with the dragon if he can’t handle it.”
You’re coming, then?
“Of course I am.”
“Just give me a few moments, all right,” Uncle Todd says, waving a hand as Lavie began to glow a light violet. You guess that was the beginning of a teleport. “Okay, Stella?”
“I guess,” Stella says glumly.
“Do whatever. ‘S not any of my business what you do.”
Uncle Todd turns to you, looking sincerely apologetic. “Listen, bud, I’ll make it up to you – both you and Stella. I’ll tell you what, I’ll take you both out for ice cream tomorrow. My treat. We’ll go to the park afterwards or something.” You nod. You don’t really feel mad or angry, at Uncle Todd for not being able to stay for all of your birthday. You know work’s important; Dad’s stressed that to you over and over again, though he’s still around all the time.
Uncle Todd walks out of the dining room, Lavie hovering above him. He begins to glow violet and a nonexistent wind picks up. You watch the whole ordeal in amazement. You’ve never seen a real teleportation before – it’s kind of cool. “Claire, Will, my apologies. I had no idea –“
Your father shakes his head, only once. “You never do, Todd. Good luck, and do give my regards to Matt.”
“Oh, I intend to –“ your Uncle replies with a foxish grin. “I’m going to wring his little neck once I get all this sorted out.” He’s almost totally gone, now only a figure of pure white. “Oh, and Irene, make our wish good.”
And with that, he’s gone.
“Stupid Lavender,” Stella says again out of the now, newfound silence.
“You know…” Diane smirks. “Lavie probably wouldn’t hate you so much if you didn’t stop calling him a girl with that nickname of yours. Look what he did to your chair –“
Curious, you look to where Diane’s pointing, noticing a very apparent crack laced across the chair’s legs. You blink. That definitely wasn’t there before.
Stella scowls. “You call him that, too.”
“Yes, but not when he can hear me. That’s the difference, Sis.” Diane then ruffles Stella’s hair, much to her chagrin. “It’s called tact. You do not have it. ”
“I do, too!”
“Who’s Matt?” you hear your mom ask over Stella’s exclamation. You’re curious as to who Matt was too, so you listen. Even Stella and Diane go quiet.
“An acquaintance. He was in many of my classes during school – he was the same age as I was. I hung out with him once or twice – Todd was always with me. I wouldn’t call him a friend of ours by any means. He was… an odd boy all through school.”
“Odd?” Your mother cocks her head. “A class clown?”
“No…” Your father says carefully, taking a very long sip of his fruit punch. “More like the school’s idiot.”
“Lets just say he’s the kind of person who, after kidnapping a baby Kangaskhan, would expect to have a nice, civil conversation with its mother.”
“See, he’s stupid,” Stella says with a ‘humph.’ “Dunno why Daddy has to help stupid people.”
“That’s just your father,” Aunt Irene says, finally breaking her silence with a sigh. “Always your father.”
All goes quiet again, and Stella’s frown is more pronounced than ever. You feel tense, and you know this is not the atmosphere you had in mind. Birthday parties are supposed to be happy and loud. You gaze in Aunt Irene’s direction. You suppose that maybe you don’t need Aunt Irene’s wish – she probably needs it more than you do. So, you’ll skip it this year.
“Can I open presents now?!” you say, making sure to do it loudly. The tension immediately shatters as Stella perks up. She’s looking almost like her old self now.
“Me first, me first!” she exclaims, getting out of her chair and running with sudden gusto over to where your present stash is situated, grabbing a small, but long box wrapped in apparently tie-dye wrapping paper. She’s absolutely beaming as she drops the present onto the table in front of you.
Diane leans back in her chair. “It’s from the both of us.”
“Yeah,” Stella admits. “But from ME especially.”
You tear open the wrapping paper quickly. Stella’s presents always tend to be on the odd side, but you’re looking forward to opening it all the same. Discarding the pink wrapping paper, you pull of the top of the box, peeking at what’s inside.
Your eyes widen.
It’s a shirt.
It’s a TYE-DYE shirt.
And it’s PINK. Hot Pink. Only a little bit of yellow mixed in with it.
“I’m not a girl!” you exclaim hotly, noticing another object amongst the shirt. It’s a necklace – granted, this one doesn’t look too girly, being a dark green, with a little bit of blue and all. A butterfly symbol is on it.
“I know you’re not a girl, silly,” Stella says, grinning fit to burst. “You like it?”
“It’s PINK!” you hiss. “PINK is a girl’s color.”
“Tough guys wear pink, you know that, don’t you?” Diane says, grinning.
“Well…” you say, never having heard that particular expression before. You fumble, trying to find some apt retort, but end up failing miserably, repeating yourself once more. “It’s pink.”
Once school starts, you’re quite sure that if you wore it, there’d be nothing to stop the boys from making fun of you, and calling you a sissy, or something like that. The girls with their little packs would probably never stop giggling at you in that oh-so-annoying way that you just despise.
“You don’t like it?” Stella says, with a sad look that makes you feel extremely guilty.
“Well – ummm…” you mumble quickly, t-shirt, and holding it out in front of you, scrutinizing it in all its pink and yellow splendor. Your eyes move carefully over to where your Mother and Father are sitting. Your dad is merely watching the whole ordeal, while your mom, you discover, is glaring at you from across the table. It’s the ‘You better had better like it or else’ look.
You sigh. You guess the shirt isn’t that bad.
You quickly put on the shirt over your other one, not even noticing that you put it on backwards. Stella didn’t even seem to notice either, too busy digging through your present box, picking up the long, silver chain that has the butterfly pendant attached to it. She throws it over your head before you can protest.
“See? I got the butterfly necklace thing, because you have Ian now, and Ian evolves into a Butterfree. See!”
You see, but you don’t see. But Stella’s obvious enthusiasm is beginning to leak in, and you smile anyway. It’s your birthday, you should be happy, no matter what you get.
“I think it looks good on you,” your Dad says, his face completely serious. If he thought your new look was funny, he was hiding it well.
(If you knew a shred about fashion, other than what colors are ‘boy’ colors, and what other colors are ‘girl’ ones, you would’ve noticed that the pendant and shirt clashed horribly.)
“Yeah, it’s pretty!”
“Tough,” Diane corrects, before laughing, she’s clearly enjoying herself. “I can totally feel the vibes from here. Now, who’s up for some cake? I am.”
A few more birthday presents are passed your way, and you begin to tear them open with gusto.
You sure don’t feel tough, but even so, you feel special. And, you guess, that’s enough.
Eight becomes nine, and nine becomes ten, and ten becomes eleven before the party even starts to look close to being over with. The presents have all been opened, the cake eaten, with only a few more pieces left, and everyone is just now cleaning up and preparing to leave. You feel quite satisfied with your stash this year – a few toys, and even twenty dollars worth of pocket money… (Not to mention a t-shirt, socks, a book, and some legos) You’re even still wearing the tie-dye shirt and butterfly pendant.
Both you and Stella are sitting on the stair way that goes up to your room, and Stella’s pretty much having a one-way conversation with herself, as you’re not exactly listening (It’s late, and she’s not making a shred of sense). Despite all the candy you’ve had to day, you can already feel your eyelids begin to droop, and more than once you’ve had to jerk yourself into wakefulness.
In the background, the three adults and Diane are involved in a rather lively banter as the dishes get washed and dried. The sounds are getting fuzzy again, and the voices are fast becoming garbled, just like Stella’s already are. Your eyes droop, and your head begins to bob ever so slightly –
And thus, you are jolted back into awareness by Stella’s loud voice. Both of your eyes are still half shut, and you can barely concentrate enough to make eye-contact with Stella. She’s glaring at you, and you suppose you better try and listen to what she’s trying to say.
“Aren’t you listening?”
“I said, ‘aren’t you listening?’”
You blink, and rub your eyes, trying to rid yourself of the drowsy feeling. You can barely concentrate. “No…”
Stella groans, her little fists clenching, and she assumes a very pouty face. “I asked if you wanna to go with me and Diane to the water park tomorrow.”
Eh.. Huh?... Oh, wait.. Stella’s dad.. didn’t Uncle Todd say… something about ice cream.
You collect enough of your thoughts to make an at least half-intelligent, audible reply. “I thought your dad was gonna take us to get ice cream and do other stuff tomorrow.”
“Well..Umm…” Stella begins, biting her lip. You perk up a bit more, watching her stumble. She looks rather embarrassed, and rather sad, too. “Well… y’see, when Daddy says tomorrow, he usually means the day after the day after the day after tomorrow. Or even the day after that… Daddy’s funny like that. Mom says she doesn’t get it, but I do.”
“Oh,” you say softly, suddenly wishing you hadn’t pried. “Well, that sounds fun. I’ll go if Mom lets me.”
“Yeah.” Stella nods. “Oh! You can bring Ian, too. It’s a Pokémon place. I think he’s small enough that he’d float on the water, or something.”
The imagery alone makes you laugh. All you can imagine him doing is screaming. You blink, and suddenly wonder what exactly Ian is up to. You’ve kinda forgotten about him, and he looked so sad when you left your room when the party started, and, even though you don’t want to think about it, you know that today just might be your last day with him. Your smile fades into a frown.
“What’s wrong, huh?”
“Nothin’.” You shrug. “Just thinking ‘bout Ian.”
“Oh! Well you should bring him some cake, then. He’d like that… I think. You can’t just eat veg-i-ables all the time. Yucky. ” Stella’s head snaps to the left, as Diane and Aunt Irene call her. You didn’t notice, but the dishes are done and Stella’s family are waiting for her at the door. They’re leaving. You blink sleepily as Stella stands up and waves goodbye.
In another moment, they’re gone.
You decide to take Stella’s advice and sneak Ian piece of chocolate cake. You dunno if he’ll like it, as all you’ve seen him eat are green things, like Stella said. He seems content with that, but as far as you know, everyone likes chocolate, and Ian deserves a little chocolate after being left alone in your room for so long. You sigh as you stumble sleepily up the stares. You hope he’s not mad or anything.
You reach your room, and start to turn open the door handle. The lights are off, and all you can hear is the gentle rumble of the television, as well as some cartoony voices.
Balancing the paper plate precariously in one hand and opening the door with the other, you step drowsily into your room, like some sort of zombie. But all that goes away in one, single moment.
Your suddenly find that your legs are suddenly caught in something sticky. You yell, and stumble, trying to pull yourself away from the sticky substance (which you have no idea what it is). You feel frightened, and you squirm, and begin to run, but only end up tangling yourself more in the sticky threads.
You feel yourself being thrown off balance as the stringy stuff adheres to your legs when you try to jerk yourself free. The cake falls out of your hands, smashing into the floor with you quickly following suite. You end up smashing the cake further into the floor, but you don’t notice that until a few moments later, when the pain of the fall goes away, and you’re no longer blinded by the TV’s light.
You groan, now looking at the cake squished into the carpet. Your eyes are slowly adjusting, and you notice that your room’s absolutely covered by the sticky string that made you fall. Every corner is covered by the white, thick substance; it’s sticking to the walls, the TV – even onto the fan.
It’s then you realize exactly what it is. Anger surges through you, white-hot and burning.
It’s String Shot.
Ian knows String Shot.
You grit your teeth, to try and keep yourself from crying angry, frustrated tears as you pull yourself to your feet. You know you left him alone for a while, and you felt bad about that, you really do, but that was no reason for him to get angry and String Shot your room just because of that. You don’t even care if he was jealous, he didn’t have to make your room a mess. There’s no way you can clean this up by yourself – you don’t even know if you can untangle yourself from the floor. Mom’s going to kill you when she sees this. She’s definitely not going to let you keep the Caterpie who destroyed your room, no way, no how.
Slowly, the tears begin to disappear, and your eyes glint with cold, unwavering fury.
How could he? You thought he was your friend!
And what is he doing now? He’s sleeping on his back, on YOUR bed, looking all peaceful like nothing’s wrong.
How could he! How could he!
(How dare he!)
A growl of anger erupts from your throat, and you manage to stand up, avoiding the String Shot dangling from the ceiling. You open your mouth to yell –
(You don’t care if he’s asleep. You’re going to wake him up. He’s going to feel bad for what he did.)
-- before something catches your eyes in the moonlight.
You pause your impending tirade. Just for a moment. You look up to where a big cocoon of String Shot is located. It’s strung right up across the ceiling, above your bed. They look like… letters. Droopy ones.
The realization hits you like a plume of Ho-oh’s Sacred Fire.
He was just trying to do something for your birthday, too.
He was just trying to make you feel special, since he couldn’t be down there with you.
The String Shot? They’re streamers. He didn’t have any to use, so he made his own.
Even though he can’t spell, he tried to anyway – but you don’t really care that he spelled it wrong. When it comes down to it, it’s the same meaning, no matter how you choose to spell it.
Every ounce of anger is gone, replaced by a strange, warm feeling deep inside your chest. It’s like happiness, but not quite. You don’t know what to call it, but you decide it doesn’t need a name.
Slowly, you manage to get yourself untangled from the String Shot, and start to carefully weave your way through the streamers to where your bed is; Ian’s still sleeping, tiny, growling sounds emerging out of his throat. His feet are wiggling.
“Sorry,” you whisper. “I smashed your cake, too. Sorry.”
Perhaps he heard you somewhere deep within his dream, maybe he didn’t. But you think he did, even as you scramble atop you’re bed, not bothering to disturb Ian just to snuggle under your covers. You have the distinct feeling that everything’s going to be okay. Your eyes close, and your breathing slows.
You’ll worry about everything tomorrow.
And with that, you drift deep into the realm of quiet sleep.
Both you and Ian had stayed up so late, that when the next morning came, you both slept. So tired were the both of you, that you and he never heard the sounds of your mother’s footsteps as she crept up the stairs. You never heard her open the door to your room, barely stifling a screech of surprise as when her foot made contact with a glob of String Shot. You didn’t see her surprised face turn red with anger as she looked about the room in horror.
(And that was probably a good thing.)
But it was a shame you didn’t get to see your Mother’s face when she noticed the banner hanging across your ceiling. You didn’t get to see her face light up with a sudden understanding, and you never got to see her smile as she softly closed the door to let you and Ian sleep the rest of the afternoon away.
No, you were too busy dreaming of cake, pink shirts, baseballs, and birthday candles. Still, you did smile a little knowing smile.
…Sometimes wishes do come true…
...And here I was hoping that one of those presents would happen to be a Pokeball...oh well. Can't wait for the next part.
Ichapokemr -----2000 Posts-----> Ichaste Pekoni (5/8/2007) -----3500 Posts (12/29/08) -----> Forci Stikane
Well, the next part is coming along shortly, so you won't have to wait for too much longer. XD
A/N: Well.. about time, huh? This chapter is split into two parts as has been the tradition thus far. I have most of the second part done, but I was suddenly struck with an idea of perhaps introducing two characters that I've been toying with introducing.
These chapter (and part two) are the last time you'll see "yourself" as an eight-year-old. Yes, I'm sad, too, as there's so many ideas I want to write - - just little fun adventures, with the whole gang. But I'm afraid things'll get rather boring, and you'll want me to move on. o.o And I guess I have to have some semblance of connecting plot. I still would like to continue to write them as children - as I love them how they are, but I don't know what I'm going to do about that. I've been toying with the idea of just putting "extras" in this story of little "one-shot" episodes when they were kids ( like them at Halloween) ...or just making a separate analogy of little one-shots, but I dunno if that'll work out.
Anyway, here's part I of II.
Special thanks to katiekitten who beta'd this chapter. : D
Childhood lasts only for a short time,
Little but one rung on the ladder we must climb.
Still, the memories of those days will never fade, no matter how high
you ascend deep into cloud and sky.
This always happens – always has, year after year. With summer’s end approaching, summer’s greatest, and most deadly malady has decided to rear its stupid head: boredom.
And you’ve caught it. You’ve caught it bad. It’s been raging like the plague for a couple of days now, and you’ve been stuck lounging in your room or sunbathing outside – which has yielded no cure of the boredom bug whatsoever. Even Stella hasn’t been over, which is a rarity in itself, as she loves nothing more than to barge through your front door and the most inopportune times.
You’d welcome such an interruption now.
Your mother’s away at the grocery store, and your father’s off doing some interview for the Viridian Times paper, leaving you to your own devices. This alone would usually plunge most children your age into an abyss of near-eternal glee, but not you. No, not you. Not even being alone in the house – excluding Ian – brings any excitement to the tedium that is, sadly, your life.
Perhaps summer’s playing games with you – making you pay for the overuse of excitement you’ve had over at the water park. There, you learned many important life lessons that you vowed to take to your watery grave.
First: Despite the fact Caterpie weigh less than a stick, doesn’t mean they can, under any circumstances, float like one. They do scream and sink like a Baby Ruth bar though.
(The Squirtle lifeguard had to rescue Ian from the bottom of the Swimming Pool floor, before having to forcefully pump out the rather large amount of water Ian had swallowed, as he had gone down screaming. He kinda reminded you of a live water-fountain then).
Second: Jumping from diving board like a Wailord (belly first) is not a way to prove your unsissyness. It proves it.
Third: Water slides are not a safe method to prove to anybody (especially a half-drowned Caterpie) that water parks are fun.
Suddenly, like a heaven-sent cacophony of angels, the doorbell rings.
You fling yourself off your bed, startling Ian who was napping on the sunny windowsill. In your excitement, you don’t even to look back as you bolt out your bedroom door, jumping down the stairway, skipping every other stair with practiced ease, until you come into the kitchen where you eagerly arrive at the front door, twisting the doorknob.
(You’re actually supposed to look out of the eye-hole first, because you’re not supposed to open the door to strangers, but you decide meeting a stranger would be far more exciting than peeping through the hole and not opening the door.)
You open the door, and everything is thrown into chaos.
You scream as a thick, brown bag is thrown over your head. You didn’t even have time to see who it was.
“LET ME GO!” you yell, as you find yourself swept off your feet, tumbling further into the large sack. The opening closes, and you’re left in almost complete darkness. You feel yourself being hefted upwards. It’s just like one that movie, 101 Poochyena, when the puppies get stolen and put into a big bag and taken away, because an evil woman wanted to make a fur coat out of them.
You try vainly to extinguish out the fear that’s beginning to flare within you.
They’re not going to make a coat out of you, are they?
The piercing, forlorn screech interrupts your thoughts, managing to pull you away from the mental images of evil, ugly old hags who look more like a monster than human and fur coats.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who’s screaming.
“Be quiet, you sissy!” a rather familiar voice hisses, coming from just besides your bag. “We’re kidnapping.”
Still, Ian doesn’t bother stopping, screaming his little heart out.
Whoever’s holding your bag begins to move.
“Good Mew,” you hear the voice say over the din – another familiar one, “He screams louder than Claire. Never thought I’d see the day – I guess we’ll have to take you, too, eh, you little banshee.”
Another voice. “Dad, hold still. I’ll get him.”
There’s sounds of feet dashing across floor the tile floor. Ian isn’t screaming as loud anymore – it sounds more like a mix between hiccups and squeals now. You can imagine him weaving a complicated pattern in attempts to get away from his would-be captors.
“You’re catching him all wrong, stupid! You gotta pounce on him or make him run into a window.”
“Well, why don’t you try to catch him, then?” the feminine voice retorts darkly.
“Okay!” A pause. You recognize the voices now, all too well. If it wasn’t for the absurd amount of screaming distorting your concentration, you would’ve labeled the names to the voices right away. “Hey, Ian – Look! There’s Shawn!”
The scuttling and screaming stop abruptly. Your eardrums are thankful. “Catrpri?”
“Ha!” A loud thud. Silence.
“You didn’t squish him did you?”
Your heart stops for a moment. He can’t be squished… Can he?
“You’re not supposed to squish him!” you yell, frustration building up inside your tiny body as you struggle within the bag’s confines, which refuse to give the least bit of leeway.
“I didn’t squish him! He’s just fine – he’s just playing dead.” Stella sounds quite offended. You relax, and your movements cease. He does play dead rather well. “Besides, kidnapped people aren’t supposed to talk!”
No, they don’t talk, you think wryly, shooting a glare in Stella’s general direction, they scream.
“Well just put him in the bag. That’ll shut the both of them up – seriously, whose brilliant idea was this anyway?”
“You’re so immature, Dad.”
The mouth of the sack opens and a small figure is pushed through the hole, landing on top your chest. “Ian!” you cry happily, as the little bug raises his head to look at you. He still looks stunned from Stella’s pounce; you don’t blame him, you know exactly what her pouncing feels like. But upon seeing you, he seems to brighten up considerably, chirping in glee.
“Now that that’s taken care of,” you hear Uncle Todd say, “I suppose I’m obligated to leave some kind of note –”
Todd laughs. “Ransom note? Well… I suppose we could do that…”
…Why do you suddenly feel apprehensive?
“Here we are,” Uncle Todd says, about fifteen minutes from your rather impromptu departure. You barely constrain a yelp as the bag moves about swiftly, and you tumble out of the now open mouth and to the ground – a very grassy ground atop a small hill. You nearly roll over Ian in the process, but he darts out of the way just in time.
You shake your head, ridding yourself from dizziness as you gaze at an open, cloud-populated sky. You can see Stella (with a triumphant, catty expression) off to the side, with Uncle Todd and Diane – who seems to be harboring her permanently bored look. All are wearing brightly colored t-shirts. Diane and Stella’s are very much tie-dyed, while Uncle Todd’s is a bright blue, covered in exotic red flowers. You also notice he’s gotten something of a tan since you last saw him.
“Remind me why we’re doing this again, Dad?”
“We’re doing this because I made a promise to take him out for his birthday. So I am. Didn’t I, kid?”
You barely notice a green blur darting behind your back. You nod. “Yeah.”
“Then why do I have to come along?”
“Because your father just wants to make what remains of your teenage life as miserable as he can possibly make it – and if one of those ways is to force you to hang out with family, so be it.”
Diane scowls and rolls her blue eyes.
Taking a chance, you survey your surroundings: You’re at Viridian Park – you’ve been here many times before. It’s the largest park in the area, home to everything a child such as yourself could possibly ask for. A wide expanse of trees to climb…
(Well, for other kids, not for you. The next day you ever climb a tree is the day a full grown Ursaring is chasing after you – and even then, you think you’ll take on the Ursaring.)
…Swings, jungle gym, other brightly colored playground equipment, and lots and lots of green grass to run around on. It’s perfect.
“—not to mention,” Todd begins, catching your attention, “I need your participation in this game of mine.”
Diane’s face is completely devoid of emotion. Uncle Todd is enthusiastically rummaging through a rather large black backpack, looking quite pleased with himself, while Stella looks on with just as much – if not more – enthusiasm.
Funny, when you look at them, both Stella and Todd look rather identical.
“What game?” Diane darkly responds.
“Well, the best game in the world, of course. You see, as I was going on this Ferry – as Lavie wasn’t around to Teleport me home, the sleep-deprived git – I sat next to this man – jolly fellow he was. Nice guy, we hit it off right from the start. We got to talking, and I told him about my predicament, about how I was unable to attend all of my dear nephew’s birthday party, and how I was going to make it all up to him –“
“Did you tell that guy your whole life story, too, Dad?”
Todd ignores Diane and continues on. “—and so this guy – can’t remember his name, but it started with an ‘F’ - says, ‘Well, if I was you, I’d get your kids and go n’ play a game with ‘em. Nothing makes the family closer than a good game of pin the tail on the Tauros. I bet your young gal would like that, that’s what he said. Called her Scout, too.”
Ah – people seem to call Stella that a lot. You don’t know how they mix up her name, but it happens.
“You don’t have to tell us your whole conversation with him verbatim Dad.”
“I assure you,” Todd said. “I’m not. Anyways, so I said to him ‘That’s a great idea!’ and made this!”
Uncle Todd then brings out of his bag what looks like to be a Tauros’ brown posterior, without the tails, and holds it up proudly.
“Dad…” Diane says slowly. “Did you draw that?”
“Yup, your old dad drew it on his boat ride home. One hundred percent hand-drawn pure-bull buttocks, sketched with pencil, colored in with crayon. You can imagine the look I got from the pretty boat attendant when I asked for a package of crayons –”
“Dad, it looks terrible.”
“Ah, but you can tell what it is, can’t you?”
“I can tell what it is!” Stella exclaims. “I can! I can! It’s a Tauros’ butt!”
Ian can apparently recognize it too. He’s run behind your back already, looking down right prepared to bolt if that drawing takes one more step closer to him.
“Right you are! As long as you can tell what it is, that –” Todd snaps his fingers, taking out some more items from his bag: a pink blindfold and three strips of brown paper you presume are supposed to be tails. “- is all that matters! Now, who can tell me how many tails a Tauros has?”
You raise your hand.
”THREE-“ Stella shouts out. “Three tails!”
“Right again! I have one smart little girl, don’t I?”
“And if there’s three tails, then how many people can play?”
“Three!” Stella begins to count people on her fingers. “Me, Shawn, and Diane!”
Ian breathes a sigh of relief. Diane’s blue eyes narrow. She shakes her head. “No.” That was perhaps the most empathetic ‘no’ you’ve heard all week.
“What d’ya mean ‘no’,” Stella says, pouting. “Mom says you’re supposed to play with me anyways.”
“Burning Barbie dolls in the microwave is far different than playing pin the tail on the wannabe Tauros, Stel.”
You lay your head on your hands, looking rather bored. Seeing the two argue back and forth isn’t that rare of an occurrence. It usually ends with biting.
“No it’s not! When we play with Barbie, its head melts, when you play pin the tail on the Tauros, you get to stick –”
Todd’s hand quick lands atop of Stella’s head, quickly cutting off any ensuing remark that might have followed. “Never mind that part of the equation. I guess if Diane won’t play --” Todd gives a very theatrical sigh of disappointment, though it disappears as quickly as Ian does when he spots a Pidgeotto outside the bedroom window. “--then I’ll have to!”
With a great deal of ceremony, Todd waltzes over to the nearest tree about fifteen feet away, just down the small hill, nailing the picture to the bark and then applying a rather copious amount of tape around it. Diane’s facial expression hasn’t changed, but you can tell she’s itching to say something. It takes only a few moments before he’s finished, and he walks back up to where you and the rest are, depositing one of the tails into your open hand.
“Right! Everyone stand up - here are the rules of the game. Your objective it to try and get these tails pinned to this unfortunate Tauros’ back end – shouldn’t be too hard. Any questions?”
“Oh! What if we pin the tail on somebody else’s butt instead? Would we win?”
“Nope, afraid not,” Todd replies, his head wagging back and forth solemnly, somehow keeping a straight face. “Doing that would give us another hole where we don’t need another. Now who should go first?”
“You should, Daddy!”
Your uncle nods, beginning to tie the pink bandana around himself, though he doesn’t get far. Diane finally seems to have reached the breaking point, snatching the blindfold away before your Uncle can even finish the knot.
“Fine! I’ll do it. I’ll play or whatever… just… stay at the sidelines and look like you’re doing something constructive or… somethin’.”
“That’s the spirit!”
“As for YOU!” Diane spares a particularly venomous glare in Stella’s direction as she ties the piece of cloth around her head, slowly covering her eyes. It sends chills down your spine – and Ian’s to from the way he’s looking. “Cheat and die.”
Diane stumbles down the grassy hill, wobbling about with her arms outstretched while you, Stella, Todd, and Ian watch. Stella seems to find the whole event amusing, with Todd shouting words of encouragement to his daughter – who, from the sounds of her protests, doesn’t want to hear any of it.
Ian especially appears entranced by the whole process, peeking around your leg as he follows Diane’s unsteady course with his eyes. The closer she gets, the more nervous and curious he becomes.
Finally, Diane reaches the tree where the poster is, reaching out her hand to touch the bark, before quickly finding her target. In a manner of moments, she sticks the tail on the drawing.
This sends Ian into a fit of mini-hysterics, though his shrill protests fade into confused squeaks as he realizes nothing came of the whole affair. The whole idea seems to amaze him, and he creeps forward a few inches, cocking his head as Diane whisks the bandana off. She surveys her work without the faintest hint of satisfaction. She sighs, coming up the hill, handing the bandana over to her father whose smile is much too wide to be considered normal.
“Happy now, Dad?”
It’s Stella’s turn next, and thus far she shows more exuberance than her sister over the whole thing. She can barely stay still enough to allow her dad to tie the pink piece of fabric over her eyes. Barely five seconds pass before Stella is spun around and sent on her merry way. And unlike her sister, she runs, sprinting along as if the very Houndoom of Hell were nipping at her heels.
…Of course, she’s heading in the totally wrong direction.
Uncle Todd seems to take pity on his daughter – personally, you would have just let her run, just to see how long it would take her to find out.
“Left, Stella, left!” She turns. Todd shakes his head, his voice rumbling with thinly veiled mirth. “Your other left.”
Now she’s heading in the right direction.
“Think she’ll run into a tree again, Dad?”
Todd looks honestly thoughtful. “With the way she’s going?” He pauses. “Probably.”
And, from the resounding crash seconds later as human flesh meets tree (a very strange, yet oddly satisfying sound) it seems like that would be the case. Stella is completely bowled over, the breath knocked out of her as she lands on her back, doing a rather good impression of Ian, or so you add to yourself. You feel oddly vindicated, smiling despite yourself.
Ian squeals with worry, hopping up and down.
But you know Stella better than he does.
And just like you predicted, it takes all but ten seconds for her to get back on her feet.
And with a burst of unparallel gusto, Stella pins her tail on the Todd’s drawing.
Right smack dab in the middle.
It’s your turn now. Your world has turned from a bright, brilliant blue into that of a very black one, with only tiny increments of sunlight infiltrating the weave of the bandana. An all-too-enthusiastic Stella spins you around until you don’t know up from down, and with a “friendly” push, you’re on your way.
You don’t really know where’s your going, walking slowly, deliberately in your chosen direction. Whether you win or lose, you don’t really care, though you would dearly like to overthrow Stella’s current position. As you walk, grass under your feet, and other children’s laughing voices intertwining with other sounds through the still, clear air, you hear a very distinct voice differ itself from the rest. It’s a voice you’d recognize amongst a host of thousands.
”Shawn! Go right!” It’s Stella, her tone more mischievous than usual.
You go left.
You continue, listening closely.
“No, Shawn! You gotta go right!”
More to the left.
“You’re going the wrong way! Turn ‘round!”
Ah, she sounds frustrated.
You continue to go straight, keep your palms open in front of you. Soon you feel bark underneath your fingertips, with your right index finger lightly touching the corner of paper. You grin, and ready the faux Tauros tail in your hand, readying to stick the pin where you believe the middle is –
“Shawn! Shawn you gotta stop!”
Ah, but you’re not stopping – the Tauros is right here. In your minds eye, you can see it from behind the pink cloth. There’s no stopping you now!
You startle. It was Uncle Todd this time, with a definite edge of panic and worry. But it’s too late now, your pin plunges inward, through paper and into the tree bark.
You peel off the bandana with increasing dread. You look behind you; everyone’s staring at you, or rather, towards the Tauros target. Slowly, you turn your head around, noticing a blob of a rather sticky white substance, a kind of string… and attached to that string is Ian.
The Caterpie doesn’t utter a single word, rigid and motionless as his evolved form would have been. He’s hanging from his string shot, his eyes like twin black holes, utterly flabbergasted. The large, sharp tack that you used to stick the tail on is right between his eyes, not even three-fourths of an inch away from him.
You don’t know what to say.
You look down at him guiltily, and his cross-eyed gaze slowly turns upward to meet yours.
You suppose if his mouth wasn’t full of that String Shot, he would’ve screamed.
Very nice, very nice indeed. Will we see more, or is that it?
Ichapokemr -----2000 Posts-----> Ichaste Pekoni (5/8/2007) -----3500 Posts (12/29/08) -----> Forci Stikane
Ichapokemr: I do have more - plenty more - I just didn't want to double post here after I just posted the first part... But anyways, here's another installment for those who read it here.
A/N: Well, it's been a month later, and I actually have a few chapters almost done and over with past this. Nanowrimo went pretty well, if you want to know, though I didn't get to 50,000 words. I got just over 30. Anyway, this chapter turned out to be as long as heck, and if posted in its entirety, it would've broken the page barrier, so I'm splitting it into three for easier reading. Sorry for any inconvenience/annoyance this may cause.
Story beta read by Hanako Tabris. Lots of props goes to her for making this chapter as error free as it can possibly get.
Changing Skies PT. II
Childhood lasts only for a short time,
Little but one rung on the ladder we must climb.
Still, the memories of those days will never fade, no matter how high
you ascend deep into cloud and sky.
You're sitting soundly on the crest of the hill, in a patch of warm summer sunlight. The game has been over for a few minutes now - Uncle Todd had abruptly called the game to a halt after your near miss and declared that all four of you - yes, four - won. Because technically, as your uncle smoothly pointed out after removing Ian and the faux tales from his beloved work of art, that Ian, despite almost being "skewerfied" to use Stella's terms, made a pretty darn good tail. Albeit a green one.
No one argued on that point, and Ian was still too stunned at his near-death experience to so much as comment.
Stella, of course, demanded to see the prizes, nearly taking it upon herself to find out before what the prizes were before her dad could so much as open his mouth to spit out an answer. You were expecting something odd, because you had learned long ago that he preferred to do things that teetered on the edge of normalcy. Especially on Parents' Day, when he'd burst into the classroom with the flamboyance of an seasoned court jester - and in your classmates' eyes - just as much of a weird fool.
Of course, if any one dared to call him weird, they would earn themselves a one-way ticket to the top of the monkey's bars on the opposite side of the school's playground when Stella exacted her vengeance on those who would speak ill of her father.
You suppose if Stella was bigger she would chase the parents, too, but she's a little smarter than that.
Right now, Stella is attempting to sneak a glance into the blue cooler that her father's delving through, trying to squeeze through a gap in his arms, as his hands rummage through the sloshing water and ice. She's easily thwarted with a playful push every time.
Ian is watching the whole thing with nothing but apprehension and fear, watching you through narrowed eyes a few feet away, as if at any second you'd produce a giant tack and nail him on the spot like a ninja.
You've apologized a couple of times already, but he seems to take his close encounter to heart. He hasn't run away screaming though, so you know he doesn't hate you or anything. And, you think, if you were in his place, and Stella had almost nailed you in the head with a tack, you would probably want to stay away from her, too...
"Here we are!"
Stella tries to dart around her Dad to see, but he nudges her away. From the cooler, he produces four pouches of what looks to be Capri Sun. (You know because of the Caterpie logo).
"A free pouch of Berry Berry Blast! How's that for a prize?"
"How about twenty bucks instead, Dad?"
Todd ignores Diane and begins handing out the pouches of juice, giving the first to Stella, who looks disappointed, but nonetheless pleased, before proceeding to everyone else. "One for my little girl, one for my disgruntled teenage daughter who seems to have lost her sense of fun" - Diane snorts loudly -"One for the hostage" -You take the pouch offered you, sticking the light green straw into the silver hole - "And last but not least, one for the Caterpie who just about became a part of my nephew's bug collection."
You glare. Ian immediately backs away from his prize offered him, seemingly horrified -- perhaps at its Caterpie emblazoned cover... or perhaps at the mention that you might just have a bug collection.
"I don't have a bug collection!" you shout, allowing your anger to give your voice more power. You're not like one of those Bug Catchers in the Viridian Forest, who hunt bugs with their nets, and burn the smaller ones with magnifying glasses and watch them pop like over-cooked, butter-slathered popcorn. "I said I didn't mean to!"
Todd holds up his hands in defeat. "All right, all right. Calm down, kid. Don't be like your mother more than you have to." Todd laughs, sticking the yellow straw in the juice's opening. "It's 100% berry juice." He offers the drink to Ian again. "Well, mostly, anyway. The rest is sugar, but that won't do you any harm. Go on, take it."
Slowly, Ian creeps forward and opens his little mouth, taking the straw in his jaws, while letting the pouch drop on the ground. The hesitance written upon his features rapidly changes to joy, and he begins draining his Capri Sun as fast as water rushes through an unplugged drainpipe. Perhaps he'll be a little more forgiving with eight ounces of juice in his little stomach.
You stare with unparalleled awe and amazement.
You have never seen anyone drink anything that fast in your entire life. Heck, you'd reckon that he even beat the big-boned kids who have Moo-Moo milk chugging contests in the school lunchroom.
Ian's black eyes become watery. "Catr...pri?"
Stella's are full of fire. "NO!" She clutches her treasure to her chest protectively, nearly squishing it. "Leave me alone!"
Ian looks absolutely heartbroken, like a busted jack-in-a-box that's lost its spring.
"Stella," Diane says, her words emphasized by a well-placed, gentle nudge to her sister's backside, "don't be greedy. Just give it to him."
Stella's glare could've melted through the earth's crust. "I'm not being greedy. I've only had one drink, Ian's had five!" Her index finger points accusingly at Ian, and his persistent, upright stance shrinks slightly at the accusation. "HE'S the one being greedy! He can't have mine!"
Ian looks around, lowering himself to the ground, inching a few paces towards his target. A sudden hiccup escapes him, and he zips back to his original spot as your cousin brings her spike-adorned glare down upon him, looking about ready to royally thwack him if he comes too close.
Your drink is almost gone. You hold the dark-green container in your hand. An idea comes to your mind.
"You can have mine, Ian."
Ian spins around, hiccupping again. You hold the packet out towards him, just out of his reach.
"You have'ta forgive me though," you tell him. "You forgive me?"
It takes but one second for Ian to respond with a joyous, rumbling chortle. "CAPRI!"
You relinquish your prize - though really, it's rather vacuumed from your possession -- and Ian proceeds to suck it dry with all the contentment of a newborn at his bottle. But one thing is for certain: all is forgiven. For the time being anyway.
"If only everyone was so forgiving..." Todd sighs. "Then what a world we would have..."
"We'd have a world run... by Capri Suns..." Diane mutters dully. "Sounds great."
The juice drained, Ian tilts his head to the side, black eyes glittering darkly. He's ogling at your uncle now, or... more specifically, his drink.
Todd laughs, stuffing the straw into Ian's mouth before he can so much as lunge for it. "Just take it, you little vampire."
Ian doesn't object, latching onto it like a clamp.
Then, two unknown voices ring like the bells of Mt. Pyre.
"STELLA!" "Lookit! It's Stella!"
You turn around to scan the area where the voices originated. You spot two children around you and Stella's age running towards you. Both look exactly alike: jet black-haired and blue-eyed. Both are dressed in clothes of the same design, just a different color (one blue and one green) of which you recognize to be very fancy, expensive stuff.
Diane groans. "It's the brats..."
"The brats...?" Todd pauses; you turn your head a bit to hear. "Oh, you mean the kids who you baby-sat a couple of weeks ago because their parents hadn't hired all the staff yet? The ones who just moved in to that big mansion -- "
"Yes, Dad, those brats."
You observe the two children closely. You've never seen them before, but you did remember hearing that the old, abandoned mansion lot had been bought by some rich people -- the kind of people who your dad says have money growing on trees in their backyards. But what do they want with Stella? Your cousin doesn't seem to know who the two boys are.
"Twins, eh?" Todd comments offhandedly.
Diane nods. "Named Ga -"
"We told you not to call us by those names!"
The twin boys have reached the top of the hill. Ian and his drink dart behind your back in a lightning flash of green.
"Yeah!" the other twin adds. "Those aren't our commoner names."
"Oh, right," Diane says, sounding as dry and dull as a piece of sand paper. "I forgot. Sorry."
"And you guys are commoners --"
"Technically," Todd interjects, "we're middle class."
Inwardly, you can't help but imagine a diagram reminiscent of a food chain.
Both twins seem to consider this statement for a moment, before the boy in the green button-up shirt continues as if he had never been interrupted. "...Middle-class commoners, so you have to call us by our commoner names."
Todd smiles a bit, humoring the boy's despite Diane's rigid glares. "So, what should we call you then?"
Both boys smile, positioning themselves right in front of your cousin. They seem to be generally ignoring Todd's words, focusing solely on Stella, as if it had been her who asked for their names, not your uncle. "You can call me Guy!" the one in the dark blue says.
"And I'm Luke! We've seen your picture that our baby-sitter had of you."
--"They stole my wallet," you hear Diane mumble to her dad from the side. "They wanted to see how much money a commoner carries. The little brats."-
"And we just want to play!" both echo, stretching out their hands towards your cousin, who pauses only to blow a strand of blonde hair out of her face, and to sip at her drink, wrapping her arms around her knees as she brings them up.
Their expressions mirror that of a Growlithe waiting for praise from its master. Stella notices this, and, hands still curled around her knees, barely looks up from where her chin is resting atop her kneecaps, and says firmly, "I don't hold hands with boys."
Their happy, eager faces of glee drop like the silver, flashy ball does on New Year's Eve. Unlike the ball, however, they don't explode into pieces of brightly colored confetti.
"I told you were shouldn't've done that," the twin called Guy says, pointing accusingly at his double.
Luke shrugs his shoulders. "Not my fault commoner girls think funny."
...And all the while they act as if you can't hear a word they're saying...
Slowly, their eyes creep back towards Stella, who is watching them dubiously, unsure of what to think of them. Soon, however, their eyes wander over to your still form. Their eyes widen, as if they had never seen you before - like you had just poofled into existence.
There's a long, pregnant pause. They don't look happy. They stare at you. You stare rebelliously back.
Stella, who's sitting right by you, leans towards you. "I don't think they like you very much," she whispers in your ear.
You don't even bother to nod in agreement.
"Who're you?" one (you don't really care which one) asks as both of them crouch down onto the grass, no doubt in order to "interrogate" you better.
You fold your arms across you chest and shrug. "Nobody."
The twins rock back and forth on their toes. They turn to each other, and an almost invisible communication seems to take place instantly, even if there are no words. An instant later, something seems to be decided upon.
"-Nobody to Stella?"
You stare. Uncle Todd looks like he's figured out something -- and from the way he's smiling, he's rather amused by it. Your eyes allow your head to wander over to the playground, and you say off-handedly. "I'm her cousin--"
"Hostage!" Stella hisses.
"Oh!" Luke exclaims, apparently seeing you in a new, brighter light now, judging from the cheerier, non-threatening edge to his voice. "Well, I guess that's kinda okay then."
"Yeah, he's all right."
Uncle Todd, who's been spread-eagled across the grass for the past few minutes laughs. "Medieval times, boys, medieval times," he says, before being elbowed in the side by Diane, who looks very unamused at his comment, and decides to resign himself to silence.
From behind you, Ian hesitantly peeks around your side.
"Look, it's a Caterpie!"
Ian freezes. His eyes go wide as the two boys step towards him. He screams, and with a speed that would put a Pikachu being chased by a hungry Persian to shame, darts across your legs and under the bottom of your tie-dyed t-shirt to seek safety. Two very large, frightened eyes peer out from underneath the bottom of your t-shirt over to where Stella's pouch of Capri Sun is, just feet away.
You guess he really isn't mad at you anymore.
"It's a screaming Caterpie..." Guy corrects with awe.
"Leave Ian alone," you say gruffly. "He's mine. You can't catch him or anything."
"Oh," Luke says, disappointed. "He's your Caterpie..." Seconds later, his face lights up. "Well, then, we'll buy him from you!"
"You can't buy Ia -"
"Fif-ty do-llars," he repeats.
Stella blinks. Luke's holding out a very green, very authentic fifty-dollar bill. "Wow. You've got fifty dollars? That's a lot." Stella turns to you, a curious, greedy gleam spreading across her eyes to join her demonic smile. "Sell him," she demands, hissing it in your ear. "We can buy lots of candy and flowers with that!"
"I'm not selling Ian!" you hiss back, indignant.
Ian shifts a little more, emitting a strange sort of chattering sound.
Luke, paying little heed to your objections, circles his head towards Guy. Guy nods, shuffling through his right pocket, pulling a fifty-dollar bill from it, stretching out his hand so that his bill is now besides his brother's. "One hundred dollars then."
Stella's eyes enlarge even further. You think you can see the money reflected in their sapphire depths.
"No." You firmly stare the two twins and Stella down. All three are surprised.
"I don't have anymore..." Luke says despondently, looking pleadingly into his brother's matching eyes.
"That's okay... I think I got more money in my other pocket..."
Unable to contain herself any longer, Stella blurts out, "... I'll sell you Diane if you want!" Both look at her as if she's crazy. "She's a little more useful than a Caterpie."
No answer. Diane doesn't even seem to think it's worth it to retaliate.
Both boys shake their heads. They're staring at you again, greedily.
"I'm not selling Ian!" you repeat, with a heavier emphasis on 'not'.
If worse comes to worse, you can take Ian and run. You're a very fast runner, so you think you can get far enough away to escape. But seriously, what part of 'no' don't these two get? Maybe rich kids never learn the word 'no' in that particular context.
Both boys blink. Guy turns to Luke. "I guess we better call Brelindo to get more money..."
"But we're not supposed to be outsi -"
"I'M. NOT. SELLING. IAN!" you bellow, very, very loudly, drawing the attention of a few picnicking families nearby. Your face flushes red in embarrassment, but you don’t regret your actions.
"Don't be stupid," you-don't-care-who mumbles.
"Anything can be bought with money!" Both boys nod sagely. "Even friends if you really want."
Luke concludes his speech with a stately, dignified nod.
Guy, meanwhile, is playing with something silver colored in his hand. A cell phone.
Diane sighs, standing up. "Gimme that."
Diane snatches the cell phone out of Guy's hand. Both boys look like they've been hit hard with something... like a bowling ball that's gone awry. Both of them stare at Diane, utterly speechless. During the silence, Ian seizes the moment, darting out of your shirt, grabbing Stella's drink, and returning to his hiding place in less than five seconds. Everybody besides you is too busy to notice, and you don't care enough to say anything about it.
"You can't do that!"
Diane barely looks up from the number pad on the cell phone. "Watch me." She punches the red button to end whatever call they were making, its silvery LCD screen holding a picture of a pretty fire-haired woman and a stern looking man with a red moustache in a fancy suit. "You brats are wayyy too young to have cell phones anyway... you probably burn a hole in your mom's and dad's wallets from sending too many picture text messages to each other...." she pauses. "Well, maybe you don't. But whatever."
Both boys look indignant.
"It's not like you have anyone to call anyway."
"Yeah we do!"
Diane looks unconvinced. "Uh huh."
"We have Mother and Father, Berlindo, Valintino, Mr. Vince from the bank..."
"Don't forget Antonia," Guy buts in.
"And Antonia, our governess, Christopher, Anna Marcia Guadianolazowa, Artemis Windfall the XIII, all the maids and butlers, our old friends from Hoenn..."
Luke's been nodding at each name the whole time. Suddenly, his hand shoots into the air. "Oh! Oh! And 911!"
They're about to continue on, but Diane holds her hands up in defeat, or maybe she just doesn't want to hear them talk anymore. "Okay, okay, touché."
Luke's blue eyes turn hopeful. "So you'll give us our cell phone back?"
"Yeah. After I call your parents."
"NO!" both boys shout, their whines nearly making you cover your ears.
"You're not even supposed to be here, are you? I don't see your maids, butlers, baby-sitters, or whatever people your rich mommy and daddy hire to watch over you brats."
"Well... umm .... er.... we... um... err..."
"I'll take that as a no."
Uncle Todd sits up, looking suddenly interested. “You escaped from home, did you?"
The pair nod. "Yeah."
"We went around the back through the garden. We pretended that we wanted to play hide-and-go seek with our new butler. We went and hid in a closet..."
"Yeah. And when Valintino went to look for us, 'cause he has to play with us or else he doesn't get any money, we locked him in the basement when he went down..."
"So..." Diane begins. Her finger on the numeric pad has lifted. "You ditched him?"
Now there are two very unnerving, but very proud, fond smiles, magically appearing across their pale skin. "Yeah."
You aren't very impressed.
"So you can't call home! We don't ever get to go outside of our property, because mom and dad won't let us, so we never get to see anything or meet anybody. So if you call our parents, we won't be able to get out as easy again."
"So?" Diane looks about as sympathetic as a vulture that just saw a rabbit get run over. Both boys' eyes tear up, but tears haven't ever easily moved Diane, as Stella tends to employ that tactic far too often for it still to have a potent effect. Diane crosses her arms, giving the two black-haired boys the 'I've seen this plenty of times before, and it ain't going to work' look.
You wonder why Uncle Todd hasn't stepped in, but then again, he looks pretty content just sitting back and watching the whole thing play out.
"You c-c-a-in't-" Guy sniffles, rubbing his nose with a Nosepass embroidered handkerchief he suddenly procured out of his slack's pocket, and wiping his eyes, clearing away the non-existent tear-drops in one fell swoop.
Diane rolls her eyes as Guy continues to sniffle, blowing his nose loudly into his handkerchief. "Okay, give me one reason why I shouldn't."
Without so much as a word, Guy and Luke hold up their fifty-dollar bills.
Exactly one minute later (and for Diane, one hundred dollars richer) you find yourself sitting besides Luke, who insists on sitting in between you and Stella, drinking down one of the Capri Suns Uncle Todd salvaged from the bottom of the ice-filled cooler. On the other side of him, and on the other side of his other, Stella glowers, watching Diane who is inspecting her hard-earned cash, sullenly.
Luke sets his Berry Berry Blast juice down on the ground. You feel Ian shift to the right, still hidden under your shirt.
"I guess we can't buy your Caterpie right now... we have no money."
"I told you," you growl, "I'm not sel -"
"But that's okay!" he continues, cutting you off, much to your eternal chagrin. "Because we have our own Pokémon anyway. We got one for Christmas last year." He turns to Stella, head resting on her knees once more, resembling a glum, cold grave keeper who's been stuck doing the midnight rounds during mid-winter for a few weeks. "Wanna see?"
Despite her morose, ired expression, she nods.
Luke smiles triumphantly, pulling an ordinary pokéball from his belt. He spins it on his finger (proof that the both of them have wayyy too much time on their hands in that mansion of theirs) and throws the red and white sphere into the air, shouting, "Go, Lavanya!" as the ball clatters to the grassy ground. It emits a fountain of white light, and from that haze comes a strange, alien creature.
It's a Pokémon you've never ever seen before.
It's a strange Pokémon, and no mistake. It has a green, gooey body with arms that really shouldn't count as arms, and no feet or any other appendages whatsoever. It seems almost ghostlike, with a strange, yellow feather sticking out of its bald head.
Blinking its beady, black, lethargic eyes, it yawns, opening up its jaws very wide, until it forms a near limitless red abyss. That alone makes you stare. "Gullllll..." -- it exhales, deflating like a balloon-- "piiiiinnn."
"A Gulpin, huh?" Uncle Todd nods in what seems to be approval. "Haven't seen one of those things since when I visited that Hoenn hippie town -- Fortree I think it was -- on my senior trip. Bunch of tree-huggers, the lot of them."
Stella blinks, looking awed by the new arrival. She faces Luke, tapping him on the shoulder. "Can I poke it?"
"It might explode into goo if you do, Stel," Diane interjects before Luke can answer.
Stella's gasps. "Really?! Wow! Can it really do that?" Both twins shrug at her questioning glance. "If it does," she ventures, "can I still poke it?"
Oddly enough, you have the strange desire to poke it as well.
With a bob of their heads that you interpret as a sign of consent, Stella slowly begins to crawl on all fours in the Gulpin's direction. The Gulpin, however, doesn't seem to notice Stella's approaching form, gazing blankly into the bright blue distance, like it doesn't care about anything in particular. It doesn't even swivel its eyes when Stella stretches her hand out. Gaining courage, Stella thrusts her index finger forward into the Gulpin's rubbery flesh.
You, Stella, and the twins brace for impact, but nothing happens. The Gulpin doesn't so much as blink... or explode for that matter.
You're strangely disappointed.
"Her name's Lavanya," Luke explains as he stands up and pats his Gulpin on the head until she finally grins in a dull way.
"That's not her commoner name though," Guy adds, ignoring the face-faults that are making their rounds, "so you can't call her that."
"What is her name then?" Diane asks while rolling her eyes in what seems to be annoyed expression.
"We call her Big Fat Lady-"
"-but you can call her Lady if you want."
"THAT'S MEAN!" Stella immediately yells, hands quivering. "You're not supposed to be calling girls fat! Because that gets them mad and hurts their self.... e-... Eh..."
Todd holds up a finger. "Esteem."
"Yeah!" Stella's face glows with righteous fury, speaking her next word with as much emphasis and finality as a Scyther about to decapitate someone's head. "Esteem."
Both boys blink. "So?" they speak up in unison.
"Lady doesn't care." Guy pats her again. "Do you, Lady?"
"See! See!" Both boys are grinning with triumph. "She doesn't care."
"Besides," Luke continues smoothly, "we dunno if she's a girl anyway."
What's worse, you wonder, being a girl and being called fat, or being a boy and being called a girl?
"Haven't... er... your parents looked?" Todd gestures to Lady with his hands, looking for once more than a bit ruffled.
"Well, yeah." Guy hesitates, his brows furrowing. "But they gave up. But we think we know how to tell, though."
"Tell?" Stella's eyes are wide.
Both twins exchange glances and smile, a very proud one that’s alike to someone who’s just found jackpot at the end of the rainbow. They lean towards Stella, slowly, deliberately, obviously savoring each passing second. You inch a little closer, trying to get into a better hearing range - as you're curious despite yourself. This sends Ian tumbling out from his hiding place. Squealing, he makes a near-flying grab for the surprisingly not yet empty Capri Sun that fell with him, before dragging himself and it onto your shoulder, then on top of your head. You suppose he does that because he fancies your hear good cover. He watches the twins from his perch suspiciously.
Guy's blue eyes dart furtively from left to right as he leans in further, closer to Stella's ear. He pauses a moment for dramatic effect, voice lowering in volume and tone. "You see, the secret is" --Both boys are ignoring everyone except Stella again, and she leans foward, listening intently-- "You have to look in a special place if you wanna check if it's a boy or girl."
Stella looks really curious now. Diane looks like she just wants to leave the premises and never come back.
"For Lady," Guy whispers, "we think it's her mouth."
Stella's head robotically snaps over to where Lady is. As if on cue, the Gulpin yawns. Stella's eyes are locked on Big Fat Lady's throat, and you can't help but try to get a look inside, too. Call it curiosity.
Stella scowls, craning her head to try to get a better look down Big Fat Lady's throat as another yawn ripples through the rotund creature like a sudden gust of wind. "I can't see anything special."
"That's because it's really far down."
"That's what we think anyway."
"We'd stick our head in with a flashlight to try and see for ourselves," Guy explains, poking Lady absently, "but I think she'd swallow us whole if we did."
"She'd eat you?"
"Yeah, accidentally, I guess. She likes to eat anything."
"Anything?" you ask gruffly, allowing your voice to carry your disbelief.
The twins nod. "Anything."
"Watch." Guy picks up his empty juice pouch, lying on the ground just behind him. He stretches out his hand. "Open up, Lady."
It takes the Gulpin a few moments to respond. Her eyes lazily drift upwards to the juice pack. She studies it for a few seconds, before slowly opening up her mouth, snapping it shut as Guy drops it (yellow straw and all) into her awaiting cavernous maw. She doesn't even chew. All you can hear is a strange bubbling sound followed by a deep, airy sigh of contentment.
From his spot on your right shoulder Ian whimpers at the loss, latching on to Stella's drink all the more fiercely, sucking at it only to find it empty two seconds later. In his distress, Ian starts beating the dilapidated container rapidly against your head. You fight the urge to grab it from him.
Thwap thwap thwap
You look up, annoyance breaking through your calm exterior.
He stops for a moment, his appearance as innocent as he can make it with a bright yellow straw stuck in his mouth.
"She eats plenty of other stuff too," one of the brothers tells you - though he's telling it more to Stella, and you're too busy trying to tear the Berry Blast away from Ian's covetous hold to care. "Because she's our house's garbage disposal. We fed her our mother's vase, once, even. We accidentally broke it when we were playing, so we had to get rid of it somehow, so we fed it to Lady. We mostly feed her nice smelling things, though, because she always smells like what she eats."
"Really?" Todd says. "How fascinating... Imagine the things I could do with one of those Gulpin!"
Stella's eyes brighten, but under the sparkle is a malicious, conniving darkness. "We could feed Lavender to it."
"Sorry, but I don't think Pokémon sacrifices are allowed in this day and age... as eh.. intriguing as that would undoubtedly be." He sounds sincerely wishful. "Say... how much would it cost to import one of those things from Hoenn?"
Both boys place their chins in their hands, pondering. You take the moment of quiet to finally seize Ian’s weapon away. "Umm..." Guy hesitates. "... not much."
Diane's green eyes constrict. "Define 'not much'."
You quickly find out that their definition of 'not much' is happens to be 'much', much more expensive than your definition.
You open your eyes lazily as the August sun sends forth its gentle, warm waves of sunlight upon you. You're curled up under the shade of a tree (the big one that still has the Tauros pinned to it) allowing yourself to lounge in the patches of shade and sunlight, spread across the grass. You feel tired, and you think it's because of the sun. Although you began to feel rather lethargic after seeing Lady yawn so many times. You have no objections though. There's just something about drowsing your life away in the crisp sunlight that's so relaxing and lulling.
Ian has no objections either, curled up into a very tiny ball on top of your hair. His lust for Capri Sun has apparently been sated. (And only after he had gotten his little mouth on Luke's. And that was only after the person in question bribed him with it.) You think Ian's okay with the twins now.
Both Stella, Guy, and Luke are just a little less than ten feet away from you. Stella is trying to avoid being badgered by the two boys, as they ramble on about --in your very humble opinion -- nothing of any particular interest.
"Come on, Stella, play with me!"
"No, play with me! It'll be fun. I promise!"
Stella looks just about as thrilled as a Growlithe told to go and drown itself in a swimming pool. Both boys have taken hold of an arm, and they seem to be occupying themselves in a game of pseudo-tug-of-war... which you're glad you're not participating in.
With a growl of frustration, Stella rips her right hand away from Guy, stumbling at the effort. "I don't wanna play with you."
This sends Luke into a fit of boisterous, mad laughter, clutching Stella's wrist in his right hand tightly, while pointing at Guy with his other. "HAHAHA! See! She doesn't want to play with you, she wants to play with me!"
Stella turns on him, scowling all the more fiercely, giving Luke a look she usually reserves for crazy men. "Well, I don't want to play with you either!" With a tug, she pulls her wrist out of Luke's firm, but soft grip. "I wanna play with Daddy!"
Both boys look flabbergasted, looking at each other in bewilderment. Stella seizes the opportunity to take off running. It takes the twins a full five seconds to recover, before they dart off in rabid pursuit.
Uncle Todd and Diane are just off to the left of you, enjoying the other side of the tree. They seem to be having a far more interesting conversation that you've drifted in and out listening to.
"Rejected at the same time. Ouch." Uncle Todd winces sympathetically, though there is a certain quality of pride and fondness in his voice. "To think my little princess has two little rich kids on her hook already."
"I'd hate to date twins," Diane mumbles, looking quite sleepy herself, "because you'd have to choose one or the other sooner or later."
"Well..." Todd grins that scary grin again, though you're almost too drowsy to notice. "That's not quite true."
Diane's face turns sour. "Dad..."
"Technically," he begins, without so much as missing a beat. "It's called polyandry -"
"And technically, Dad," Diane snaps roughly back, "you're a moron."
"You're just jealous because Stella had a better love life than you," he counters in a good-natured, playful tone, obviously enjoying the banter... though perhaps a little too much.
Diane shakes her head. She looks everything but jealous. "Not really." Her dry, dull tone becomes more deep and bored by the second. "In fact, I intend to stay single for the rest of my life."
"And why would that be?"
Diane spares her father a very withering glance that tells him that he should know exactly why. "Because men" - she breathes in - "are stupid."
"And that's what's called a generalization! Not all men are ignorant bea-"
"Well, the men I've seen are," Diane growls, shooting a very pointed glance in her father's direction. "You don't help much in that respect, Dad."
Todd sighs dramatically, throwing his hands over his heart and assuming a very (fake looking) wounded expression. "I'm hurt. My dear teenage daughter wounds me!"
Diane's expression tells you that she could really care less. "I can tell. It's written all over your face."
"You're going to end regretting the things you say some day, you know." Again, Todd is acting a bit on the dramatic side. Your vision begins to blur in and out. You yawn.
"I highly doubt it." Diane's face is still an emotionless slate, but you know her well enough to doubt that Diane will ever regret anything. And if she ever did, she wouldn't admit it even after being interrogated by a horde of highly trained Aipom ninjas -- the ones that fight the Poké Rangers all the time.
"You will one day, mark my words," your uncle says, lifting up his arms until they behind his head as your eyes drift closed, and sleep takes its magnetic hold. "Why, what if something terrible happened to me the next day? Like... if I died --"
"Then I'd bury you."
Okay, I was getting worried...and I think it's actually okay to double-post a fanfic...but whatever. The addition of rich twins seems promising...and suggests a problem in the future...but any guesses I have are best kept to myself in this case .
Ichapokemr -----2000 Posts-----> Ichaste Pekoni (5/8/2007) -----3500 Posts (12/29/08) -----> Forci Stikane
Umm... I can only sum up my appreciation for this and all other fanfics written by the illustrious Saffire Persian in a single asterisk action comment:
*Declares National "Saffire Persian Fanfic Day*.
Hmmm.... maybe you should start signing autographs and E-Mailing them to people with the Oekaki. I can think of quite a few people who would pay for one. You are truly an inspiration to a hopeful author such as myself. Thanks, and keep writing... I'd love to see what "I'm" like as a teenager. (Oh, wait, I already know that- an insane guy with a cat-girl fetish, a deep-seated love of well-written fanfiction, and a guy who wants to become a book critic. Yeah.)
Toodle pip? :p
AN: : Last part of Changing Skies. Hope you enjoy... Sorry that i had to split this into three. It annoyed me a bit.
Oh, and while I was writing this during Nanowrimo, I ended up writing quite a few parts in the realm of 3 AM in the morning... and due to the fact I tended to get rather incoherent... things happened as I wrote that I wasn't aware of as I scribbled away, mind 95% gone. There was one spot in particular that makes me laugh every time I read it due to my dazed state. I put it in a spoiler, and I highly recommend that you not (in fact, don't) read it until you finish the chapter, then you'll get the context and stuff without spoiling the particular moment.
Kudos to Hanako for Beta'ing.
Changing Skies Pt. III
Childhood lasts only for a short time,
Little but one rung on the ladder we must climb.
Still, the memories of those days will never fade, no matter how high
you ascend deep into cloud and sky.
"I'm bored," Guy says, drawing a stick figure carrying a sword in the dirt.
"Yeah," Luke agrees. "Is this how you commoners play? It's bor-innnngg!"
"You're free to leave anytime you want, you know," Diane retorts, as you blink the sleepiness from your eyes, having only awoken about ten minutes ago to this spectacle. Ian's still perched atop your head, seemingly still snoozing, judging from the tiny, wheezing squeaks he's emitting. "Don't let us stop you."
The twins exchange fleeting glances at one another before proclaiming in perfect synchronization with one another: "It's more boring at home!"
"I know!" Stella exclaims, and Diane's face immediately switches into her "oh great" look. "Let's play tag!"
Todd is the first to respond. "Tag, eh?" He stands up. "Sounds good to me."
You know immediately what's coming, so you stand up to, black dots abounding in your vision, before fading away into a bright, crisp picture of the park before you. The sudden movement sends Ian tumbling off your back, and he lands with a surprised squeak, gazing up at you with questioning eyes. You shake your head, feeling your muscles tense up, preparing to bolt the minute Stella announces that -
Guy and Luke only take a moment to follow suit, as does everyone else, with the exception of Diane (who is resolutely sitting with her arms folded tightly across her chest with a stony glare) Lady, who has yet to move from the spot on top of the hill she has been from the time of her release, and Ian. The poor bugger just looks plain confused.
"Run!" you call out to him, slowing to a halt, though you're ready to bolt at any moment. "You're supposed to run."
"Pi?" He looks at you, tilting his head to the left in confusion. You're about to yell at him again, when Stella swoops down and bops the Caterpie on the head with such force it makes him face-plant into the grass.
She starts to run, but stops as Ian continues to look on in bewilderment.
"I said "you're it'!" Your cousin taps her foot impatiently. Ian still does not move.
(You remind yourself to teach him the rules of playing tag when you get home.)
Looking sympathetic, Uncle Todd kneels down besides the Caterpie, holding out his hand with a laugh. "Tag me."
If Ian were a Noctowl, he would've turned his head a whole one hundred and eighty degrees, but he settles for about sixty.
Todd stretches out his hand further, repeating the same words he did before. Ian, still looking rather confused by the whole thing, inches forward, before tapping him on the hand.
"That's it!" Uncle Todd yells, turning about sharply. "Got'cha!"
Stella yelps as her dad lunges for her, but he catches her firmly by the wrist and pulls her struggling form towards him. He looks pointedly at the Caterpie, keeping his hold on his struggling (and now giggling) daughter.
Your uncle then winks, pointing at Stella, loosening his hold on her pale arm ever-so-slightly. "This is the part where you run."
The light of understanding finally raining down upon him, Ian 'squees' and bolts across the turf like a green thunderbolt.
Letting go of his daughter, Todd steps back at a leisurely pace. Stella twirls around, her blonde hair flying behind her, and she leaps at her Dad, tagging him on the shoulder, before turning around and running like a blonde-haired midget would if given longer legs.
"Hold on, Stel! No tag-backs, remember?" Todd calls, and Stella's skids through dirt and grass with her pink sneakers, making a very abrupt stop, looking furious.
"Hey! You never told me that! Don't be a cheater, Daddy!"
"Just because I never said it, doesn't mean the rule's not there. It's what's called an unwritten rule, see?"
Stella looks around. "I don't see anything - any writing or -"
"Not that kind of see, Stel."
Stella blows a raspberry. "I know! You don't have to tell me!"
Diane crosses one leg over the other as she leans back against the tree bark with a shrug, clearly savoring the fact she is not participating. "Could've fooled me."
Out of the corner of your eyes, you can see the two black-haired twins shuffling towards Stella. Are they stupid? Or do rich kids not know how to play tag properly?
"You know..." Guy says, blushing as he shuffles his feet in a nonchalant way, "you can tag one of us if you want..."
"Yeah, we don't care. If you don't want to be it..."
You then have a strange desire to call her a cheater again. Twice. Once for Luke, and once for Guy.
You spin around and collapse onto the grass with a grateful sigh, your body completely and totally spent. You're not the only one. The two twins soon drop on the bright, sun-covered hilltop beside you, with Todd close behind. Stella, however, looks like she's still got energy to spare and more besides.
Ian himself showed an amazing aptitude in the chasing game. He could run away and dodge everyone without so much as trying, much to Stella's supreme vexation. She had made him her target for a good time afterwards, having rejected the twin's twin proposals, fancying the little bug easy, but it turned out to not be so; he avoided her like he would a bottle of insecticide. She then went after you, but gave up, tagging one of the twins instead.
And that took just about five seconds. Then, the other twin tagged his brother, and then that twin chased after Stella. (You’ve never seen anyone have so much fun chasing after somebody else -- especially your cousin -- in your entire life. You found it disturbing, but couldn't complain, as their target wasn't you.)
Now, the game's over, and you think Ian won it all, but the little bug doesn't care. He’s found his habitual perch atop his head, giving a very deflating little squeal that reminded you of the twin brothers’ Gulpin. Lady herself has seemingly made some progress in the movement category, having rolled over on her back, mouth open as wide as she can (which is something to behold) and seems rather content to lay there, waiting to catch flies, or whatever other morsels might be dropped from the gift-giver's above. From her dopey, half-grin on her face, you guess she's actually profited from such maneuvers before.
(Most of which, you think, were probably offerings from traveling birds, eager to pass on their blessings to the land walkers below.)
... The twins did say she'd eat anything after all. So your imagination ran with that.
"Getting old, eh, Dad?" Diane calls as she climbs the small hill, for once looking amused.
Chest heaving, your uncle takes a few moments to catch his breath. "No. I'm still… as young and spry ... like I was at twenty." He pauses, gulping in air. "... Never said anything about being a marathon runner."
"You said you were in track 'back in the day', Dad."
"Sprinter for the Viridian Vulpixes, yes. Short distance.” He breathes in. “Short distances I can do. I let the rest of the track geeks waste their time running laps for miles and miles, while I reaped the benefits. Take my brother for instance. He'd be making his tenth or whatever lap 'round the track" -- here, he makes an articulate gesture with his hands across the air -- "and I'd be finished, sitting on the bench and waving to him as he went past, while being checked out by the hottest foxy ladies Viridian High had to offer. Yes indeed." He smiles fondly, closing his eyes. "Those were the days."
"We should do this more often, Daddy!" Stella yells, cutting off and winding her father as she pounces onto his stomach. Diane has to drag Stella unceremoniously off (accompanied by a rather wry, 'you're an idiot look') in order allow your Uncle to regain his breath.
Still winded, it takes a few moments to find his voice again. "Ah," he says, thwarting another cat-like spring, "but Daddy has work, and work doesn't let your dad play tag."
Stella purses her lips, forming a scowl. "Banning tag is stupid."
You nod your head. "Yeah." What's wrong with tag anyway?
"So... let me get this straight," Diane says slowly, "you're not allowed to play tag, yet you can sunbathe and play on the beaches in Cinnabar, go on safari in Fuchsia, go on a cruise as you traveled from Vermilion to the Sevii islands -"
"My job has perks." He shrugs. "I'm not complaining."
"You should quit your job then, Daddy!" Stella says to him, eyes shining with hope. "Quit your job so you can play with us more."
Todd smiles thinly. "But I like my job."
"He just wants to 'travel around the world', Stel." Diane says, a sort of dryness coming from her voice, laced with an emotion you can't quite place. Mocking, almost. Disapproving. "It’s his life’s dream from his childhood or whatever, and his job lets him do it. It's his mid-life crisis. He's not going to quit anytime soon."
Todd puts on one of the most fake hurt expressions you've seen him wear. "I take offense at the fact you call it my mid-life crisis."
"Then what is it, Dad? So is writing Matt's speeches, or giving them to the people in his place when Matt's not around or too drunk to talk is something you like to do?"
"Well, I don't mind. Though when Matt insists on acting like a spoiled git it can be a bit of a trying experience. Last week for example. I'm surprised he wasn't killed by the time Lavie got me there."
"What did he do this time?” Diane sighs, anger in her tone fading into irritation, sounding like she doesn’t even want to know, or is very appreciative about the shift in subject, but goes along with it anyway. “Must’ve been important if Lavie came to get you. Mom had a fit when we got home, you know, so it better’ve been important.”
"Oh, it was." He looks around, seeming a bit hesitant to be talking about his work. "Well, you know about Cinnabar's special institute, don't you?"
"Yeah. The clone place or whatever. The lab.”
Stella crawls back into her father's lap, her head leaning precariously back to rest on his chest. "Daddy, what're clones?"
Stole the words right out of your mouth. Even the twins look like they don't know. You think you've heard it before on TV shows and stuff.
With a hesitance that suggests that he'd much rather not go into it, he gives a leaden sigh. "How to explain..." He draws in a raspy breath, before scribbling a crude stick figure with a dress with long hair in a patch of dirt, not covered by grass. "Lets see… Let’s imagine we decided we'd like another one of you." He circles the figure and puts an arrow pointing to it. Ian crawls up sleepily until his body drapes over your forehead. Another inch more and he'd be obscuring your eyes.
Stella points to herself. "Me?" Both twins look overjoyed at the prospect, and you could've sworn you heard Luke mumble something along the lines of 'I call the real one.'
"Yes, you. And say we decided to take your DNA -- the stuff that makes you you -- and with that made another girl." Another stick figure joined the other. The twins and you crowd closer to get a better look. "And this somebody has an appearance is exactly like yours. Same eyes, same hair, same nose--"
Stella’s eyes slowly venture over to the twins. "Then… I'd have a twin, wouldn't I, Daddy?" She points to Guy and Luke, who blink and eye their own sword-and-axe wielding stick figures. "Like them."
"Well... I suppose you could look at it that way..."
"Then... is Guy or Luke a clone?" Both twins look at each other with near identical glances of bewilderment. "Is that how you make twins?"
"Perhaps you could call Guy and Luke natural clones, if you wanted. But they're not exactly what you're thinking of. See, these clones are made with machines. Artificially. And really, shouldn't even exist. That's a clone."
"Now comes the big questions.” Todd’s gaining momentum now. “Is it ethical, and is it fair? Do the clones have rights? Do they have personalities? Are they intelligent? -- I say all who doubt it should go and insult a Scyther, then we'll see who's intelligent -- Can they feel? Matt was supposed to give a speech on his views about Pokémon Rights, and their position as sentient species, especially those of clones" -- he's talking mostly to Diane now -- "a topic which has been beaten to death, what with Cinnabar's laboratories going crazy about cloning super Pokémon. The lab nerds there quite fancy themselves geniuses.”
You listen with unbridled curiosity -- matched only by the twins -- hampered only by your bewilderment on the subject that you know pretty much nothing about. Todd doesn't really like to talk about his work with you or Stella, and perhaps you can see why, because he looks like he's getting pretty worked up over it.
"Matt ended up botching the whole thing -- not much of a surprise -- by telling the crowd that clones were little more than fodder to be used to humans as they will, as clones aren't real, living creatures and they don't experience any sort of emotion at all. Just blunt like that. He didn't even try putting any sense into it - not saying anything that usual smart people use to argue over these topics. Scientific reasoning, proof" --Todd waves his hands about in frustration-- "anything, and I mean anything besides his pure, uncensored opinion. Something that would prove to me that there is hope for him. But nope." Todd snaps his fingers irritably.
Todd exhales the breath he was holding. "Needless to say, the people were quite insulted over it. You know how people are; they'll take offense at any wrong or stupid thing someone says, and it spreads around like wildfire -- especially if you're going for things politically. Lavie came and got me so I could try and control the problem before it got out of hand.”
"And how'd you do that?"
"Made him look like an idiot, naturally.”
"Easiest speech I've ever done. Ad-libbed the whole way through. Now Matt won't have to bother resigning from office, though he might not get votes three years from now. He might have to step back from doing any campaigning and formal appearances for a few months now, though, if all goes well."
"If all goes well..." Eyelids half-closing, Diane seems to be trying to put together figurative puzzle pieces in her head. "You didn't do anything, did you?"
"Oh no, no. All I did was merely lock him in his second floor hotel room.”
“There is a window, though, if he feels like jumping."
"How... nice of you."
"I did put the key in the desk drawer ... not that he'll find it."
Diane grunts. "And I suppose you're betting he'll jump?"
"Mhmm... then I'll get two months of paid vacation."
"Umm... Uncle Todd…" you begin hesitantly, biting your lip as you manage to catch your uncle's attention.
"You can't break your arm from falling that high."
Todd shakes his head, giving you a look that says he doesn't believe you, but you still have the bruises on your butt to prove it.
It was a strange, but simple sort of peace. A gentle calmness, like dawn as it slowly changes into day.
You’re all lying contentedly on the crest of the hill you’ve been on for the past hour. Everyone has curiously lapsed into silence, with Uncle Todd's face obscured by his cherished drawing as he uses it to shade himself from the prying eyes of the sun. You feel absolutely content, lying quietly in the grass with a very berry-filled Caterpie nestled atop your head, his face bobbing as sleep begins to take a hold of him. All noise is limited to the bubbly cries of the children as they dash about the nearby playground.
Years from now, you’ll look back and wonder why this day couldn’t have lasted just a bit longer. Even just a few hours… A few more wonderful memories to weave themselves on the tapestry of your own making would be worth the price paid. This was a time when life was as perfect as it ever could be, and your limits were only bound by your sky-wide imagination. Worries were insignificant, hurts could be mended with a single smiley-faced band-aid, and all of your fears would be gone by the next brilliant sunrise.
You have little time left to think, when Stella's loud yell shattering every pane of peace and concentration.
"Look! Look!" she exclaims, pointing to the sky with an unbridled squeal of joy.
Eight pairs of eyes snap to the sky. You squint. “I don’t see anything,” you say flatly.
Stella grunts in frustration, lifting her hand even higher, jabbing the sky with her index finger. “Look! Can’t you see it? It’s an Octillery cloud!”
Todd whistles. “Well what d’you know…”
You crane your head a bit farther, following her finger. “No it’s no---“ Your eyes widen as your gaze finally comes to rest on the oddly shaped, white blur up in the sky. Your eyes widen with amazement and surprise, while Ian rises from his drowsy state, cocking his head in wonder and bewilderment.
It is an Octillery cloud.
“I bet,” Stella says a few forever-moments later, “it tastes like marshmallow.”