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  #1    
Old December 28th, 2010 (11:34 PM).
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Writing New Years All Over Again!


'Tis the time to write about New Year all over again! Have you ever wanted to write something about the holidays or the New Year but has no apparent reason to do so? Or you just want to write something right now? Well whatever the reason may be, everyone can join in this New Year/holiday-themed writing contest organized by me, Zeffy, and JX Valentine!

Everyone who joins in this contest will recieve an emblem. The best 3 writings submitted will recieve a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place Winner emblem!

How do we start writing?


Well thank you for asking! The way that this contest will run is that we will ask the participants to write a one-shot story/fanfiction to be judged by me, Zeffy, JX Valentine, and bobandbill! Bear in mind, though, that there are a few rules in this contest:

1. The piece that will be submitted must be yours, and you must be the one who made it.
2. The submission must either be "Holiday" or "New Year" themed.
3. Submit to me, via PM, your entry. After then, you must post your entry here in this thread.
4. The piece that will be submitted must not be rated R/18/M.
5. The entry can be either Pokémon-related or not.
6. Do not forget to have fun while writing it.

The deadline of entries will be January 1st, 2011 12:00 AM GMT-11. No more entries will be accepted starting at 1:00 AM of January 1st, 2011. Judging will start a few hours later.

How do we submit our writings?


You just need to PM me, Zeffy, your entry using this format and I will be the one responsible to hand it out to the judges:

[b]Title[/b]:
[spoiler]<your stuff goes here>[/spoiler]

Remember that the title of the PM must have "Contest Entry" in it.
Once PM'd, you should post your entry here, too! So that way, we won't get any problems not receiving your entries.

How will our entries be judged?


The judging system would be a thirty-points total score that will be divided into 3 categories, namely Characterization, Description, and Plot. Each judge will give up to the maximum of 10 points for each category. For example,

Spoiler:
Title: [ENTRY FOR CONTEST]
Spoiler:
[THIS STORY IS AWESOME!]


Judge 1 says,
Characterization: 10
Description: 10
Plot: 10

Judge 2 says,
Characterization: 10
Description: 10
Plot: 10

Judge 3 says,
Characterization: 10
Description: 10
Plot: 10


Easy right?

Final Words


What are you waiting for? Join now! We are getting optimistic about reading your writings! Remember the deadline! If you have any questions regarding this event, then don't hesitate to ask us!
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  #2    
Old December 29th, 2010 (02:51 PM).
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I shall join now, I think. Can't wait to start!
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  #3    
Old December 29th, 2010 (09:02 PM).
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Yay, a writing contest I'm not judging in. XD

Bleh, so I have what like, a couple more days to write it out (didn't write anything for this contest because of real life stuff -__- )? I have an idea, but not sure if I'll be able to get it done on time as I'll be busy with other stuff. I'll try my best, though!
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  #4    
Old December 29th, 2010 (09:32 PM).
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I'm so glad! ^^;
I hope more people will join, though. I'm quite nervous that only a few people will join.
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  #5    
Old December 29th, 2010 (09:56 PM).
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I'm not new to writing, yet this is technically my first time I'll be dedicating to fan fiction. I'll participate in this event. Hopefully there's more people that join Like MissSmarties, who I just challenged her on this through twitter.
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  #6    
Old December 30th, 2010 (09:41 AM).
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Can I use what I'm using for Ho, Ho, Ho! Christmas in Unova for this? Seeing as I'll be the only entry in the writing segment of that competition. Pwetty pwease
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  #7    
Old December 30th, 2010 (09:44 AM).
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I can write something up for this contest. ^_^;
It'll be the first fanfiction contest I participated in, but I'm ready for it. I'll start later today.
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  #8    
Old December 30th, 2010 (11:27 AM).
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I will be participating. I didn't intend to submit the fanfic I was writing to this, bu-ut... AdvancedK47 challenged me. Let's do this thing!
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  #9    
Old December 30th, 2010 (03:32 PM).
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Looking at the thread and all - you can enter that here, Bluerang1. =)

Good luck to all of you!
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  #10    
Old December 30th, 2010 (04:24 PM).
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I'm working on something, too! I hope more people join as well!
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  #11    
Old December 30th, 2010 (05:44 PM).
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So I should post my entry here now? Okay...
I was kind of dialogue-happy with this one...

A New Beginning
Spoiler:
New Year’s Eve brought snow to Kanoko town for the first time that year. The flurries sparkled in the moonlight as they spiraled through the frosty air to blanket the quiet town in their pristine whiteness. Most of the flakes settled serenely on lawns, streets and rooftops, but an unlucky few met their doom in the form of a warm pink tongue belonging to a delighted brown-eyed young man.

Ash was perched on the roof of Professor Araragi’s house, catching snowflakes in his mouth and enjoying the cold air. He had come back to Kanoko town with Dent and Iris to spend New Years with his mother and Professor Oak at Professor Araragi’s invitation. As a surprise to Dent, the Professor had also invited his brothers Pod and Corn of Sanyo Gym to the small party. It made Ash smile to recall Dent’s shocked yet overjoyed reaction upon seeing his brothers. The boy knew it was hard at times for Dent to be away from his home as long as he was.

He shook a small collection of snow from of his black hair and listened peacefully to the sounds of people enjoying their time together floating up from the house below him.

---

Dent deposited a few empty glasses into the dishwasher and turned to find Pod and Corn staring at him expectantly.

“Well?” Corn asked.

Confusion was visible in Dent’s green eyes. “Well what?”

His brothers took him by the elbows and dragged him to the back of the kitchen. “What are you two doing?”

Pod and Corn deposited him on a chair and stood so the blocked off any escape route Dent could have used.

“Have you and Ash-” Pod mimed something in the air. “-done it yet?”

Corn sighed as Dent’s face turned the color of Pod’s hair. “Way to phrase it delicately.”

Pod shrugged while Dent tried to formulate a coherent sentence. “I- we- Ash- no!”

“What? Really? It’s been what, six months?”

“Hush, Pod. Not everyone is as promiscuous as you are.” Corn turned back to Dent. “Are you two at least dating, then?”

“No...”

“Tell me you’ve at least kissed him.”

Dent shook his head mutely.

Corn exhaled and flipped his blue bangs out of his face. “This is a situation that we need to remedy.”

“I can drink to that.” Pod flicked open a flask of something alcoholic.

“Put that back, that belongs to Professor Araragi.”

“What do you two intend to do...?” Dent asked apprehensively.

Pod and Corn flashed identical grins. “Never you mind.”

---

Pod clambered onto the low roof with a good amount of difficulty as he tried to keep his clothes from getting wet and himself from falling off, then gave up on the former idea and crawled gingerly up toward Ash. The boy turned at his approach, seeming surprised to see anyone else outside.

“So,” Pod began, sitting himself down next to Ash. “You and that Iris chick, am I right?”

“Huh?” Ash was confused. “What about me and Iris?”

“Aren’t you two...” he made some interesting gestures in midair, but gave up upon seeing complete bewilderment in Ash’s eyes. “...going out?”

The boy laughed. “No way, we’d kill each other.”

“Huh. That’s too bad then.”

“What do you mean?”

Pod seemed taken aback for a moment, then understanding dawned. “Oh, right. Kanto doesn’t have the same traditions as here.”

Ash looked at him expectantly, so he continued. “Here in Isshu, it’s customary that when the count down to the new year reaches zero, you kiss someone.”

“Why?”

The redhead shrugged. “Something about it bringing good luck to your relationship for the next year, probably. It’s too bad you don’t have someone to kiss this year, though.”

“Well... there is someone...”

Pod turned his head so fast he nearly gave himself whiplash. “Ooh, details.”

“No way.”

Pod frowned. “I guess you not telling me means you’re planning to kiss me, then.”

Ash made a face at him. “Not in a million years.”

“Aw, that’s not nice.” Pod began scooting down toward the edge of the roof. “Well, I’m off, now that you’ve hurt my feelings so badly.”

“Oh, whatever.” A thought struck Ash. “Hey- why were you asking about Iris? You gonna kiss her?”

“Heck no! I like curvaceous ladies, not children who haven’t hit puberty yet. I’m going for a certain tipsy professor- WHOA!”

Pod disappeared from view and Ash heard a thud, a muffled “Ouch”, then “I’m okay! Probably...”

The brown-eyed boy rested his chin in his hands and stared vaguely out into the starry night. It occurred to him that he wasn’t really sure how he would go about kissing someone, but he figured he would know what to do when that time came.

---

It was strange how Dent’s normally so mature and poised demeanor was so easily cracked if one had the correct tools, Corn mused. His brother was becoming increasingly agitated as they waited for Pod to return, pacing back and forth across the room.

“I can not believe that you two would take the liberty of interfering with my relationship with Ash. You’ve locked me in this kitchen so Pod can go harass Ash. I don’t trust him to say anything appropriate at all. And what if he starts telling Ash embarrassing stories from when we were little? Oh god what if he actually does that?! How could you let him do that?! And he’s probably going to say something about “getting it on”, oh I’m never going to live this down! The end result of all this is getting Ash to kiss me? There is no way this is going to end well!” Dent fell heavily into a chair and slumped face-down onto the table. “Why would you do this to me...”

And he’s monologuing, Corn thought. I haven’t heard him do that in a while.

A soft knock came from the door the blue-haired man was leaning against. Corn unlocked and opened it to let in a soaked and snow-covered Pod. “What happened to you?”

“I fell off the roof,” he replied, teeth chattering. “so I’m gonna need a drink. What’s up with him?” Pod nodded toward Dent, who was hitting his head against the table while continuing his tirade incoherently.

“He’s psyching himself out again. Café mocha with a shot of Irish Cream?”

“Ooh, yes please.” Pod seated himself across from Dent and took off his wet vest. “Hey. You.”

Dent stopped banging his head on the table. “What.”

“Stop flipping out. He likes you.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Yes I do. I talked to him about it.” Corn came back with his drink. “Thanks.”

Dent sat up. “You didn’t say anything... uncouth, did you?”

Pod looked shocked that Dent would even suggest such a thing. “Of course not! And he didn’t get it anyway,” he added.

“So you did say something!”

“Well, kind of. But it was about Iris and he didn’t get it. And it’s beside the point.” Pod dismissed the matter as Dent opened his mouth to rage at his brother. “He told me he is going to kiss someone, and he explicitly told me it’s not me or Iris.”

“He wouldn’t kiss his mother or Professor Oak, who he sees as a father figure.” Corn chimed in. “And he does not seem like the type to go after someone he doesn’t know very well. That eliminates Araragi-”

“Which is just fine with me,” Pod interjected.

“-her assistants, and yours truly.” Corn continued. “That leaves you as the only logical option.”

There was silence in the kitchen as Dent tried to find some flaw in his brothers’ argument that he could use to refute it. After a moment he stood up, sighing in defeat. “All right. I suppose he’s on the roof?”

Pod grinned. “Yeah, he is. I knew you’d come around.”

Corn ushered him out of the kitchen. “Be sure to thank us for interfering later.”

---

Dent peered over the edge of the roof apprehensively. Part of him was afraid of falling, another afraid of rejection... and a tiny sliver was afraid of what would happen if Ash accepted him. Would things be different? He didn’t want the life they had been living for the last half-year to be completely altered; he just wanted Ash to be his.

He pulled himself onto the roof and cautiously made his way toward the lone figure silhouetted by silvery moonlight. The figure turned toward him as he drew neared, revealing Ash’s cheerful face smiling at him. “Hi Dent!”

Dent smiled back and seated himself next to the younger man. “What’ve you been doing up here this whole time?”

“Just sitting here, I guess.” Ash turned to look back over the neighborhood. “It’s nice just to relax sometimes.”

The two sat in silence for a while. The noise from the party could just barely be heard over the soft wind. Dent’s ears picked up the sound of Iris playing with Kibago, Pod hitting on a rather drunk Professor Araragi, and Pikachu happily accepting treats from Delia. Eventually someone- Dent thought it was Professor Oak- said, “Hey, everybody! Five minutes ‘till the new year!” and the whole house cheered.

Ash cleared his throat. “Um, Dent...”

The green-haired man felt a wave of adrenaline course through his body. “Er... yes?”

“Pod was up here earlier and said... something about a New Year’s tradition in the Isshu region.”

Dent blushed and saw that Ash was doing the same. “The one about kissing someone at midnight?”

“Yeah.” Ash examined his fingers, trying not to lose focus. “He said it would bring good luck to the relationship.”

“That’s what is said.” Dent set his hands on the roof to stop himself from fidgeting nervously.

The two sat in edgy silence, neither looking directly at the other.

“One minute ‘till the new year!”

Dent suddenly felt Ash’s hand on his. He looked toward the boy and found brown eyes staring into his. “Dent... I want... can I... Would you...”

Ash bit his lip and looked away, frustrated at his inability to word what he wanted to say. A warm hand hesitantly touched his cheek and gently prompted him to gaze into Dent’s green eyes, sparkling in happiness.

“Yes.”

Three...

Ash leaned closer to Dent, feeling the warmth radiating from the other man’s body. He wondered why he hadn’t done this sooner...

Two...

Dent parted his lips slightly as he felt Ash’s hot breath on them. His head was buzzing and he couldn’t focus on anything but the smaller man so close to him...

One...

Ash’s arms wrapped themselves around Dent’s waist. The action was so natural that he had to wonder if he were not made to do this- but there wasn’t time to think...

Zero...

Cold noses brushed and warm lips touched as the two kissed for the first time while fireworks lit the sky over Kanoko town and their companions below them cheered for the coming of the new year. The kiss had an unaccustomed, awkward air about it, but it felt so right that neither of them cared. Their lips parted gently and they sat for a moment, gazing into each other’s eyes.

Ash broke the silence with a nervous giggle. “I’ve never done that before.”

Dent smiled. “Neither have I, actually.”

Ash snuggled up to him, reveling in the new-found closeness. “Happy New Year, Dent.”

Dent hugged him close and whispered back. “Happy New Year.”
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  #12    
Old December 30th, 2010 (06:57 PM).
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Well, since I PMed it to you, here it is for all to read. This isn't Pokemon related, obviously, but a Touhou fanfic. Yeah.

The New Year

Spoiler:
The air was cold as a heavy wind blew through the forest surrounding a small lake. Like all winds at this time of year, it was cold, but this didn't phase a youkai named Adrian. Being an Ice Youkai, he loved the freezing cold, it was the only time he could come out in the year. But even to him, today was special, even if no one else would think so. As he walked through the cold, he looked around. 'It's beautiful today.' Adrian thought, taking in the sights of the winter wonderland. As he continued towards the lake, he was thinking of a later date. He couldn't wait until the night hit, something special was planned tonight, something to take his mind off of what was going on.

A celebration. Not just any celebration, but the celebration for the dawn of the New Year. It was his favorite day, being the perfect weather for a party. He was secretly wondering if the fairies would join him. His group would, definitely, but what about the other group, the natives to this land? Do they even celebrate New Years?

Even if they didn't, they'd only be missing out! He had to get treats ready for himself and his fairies, he knew that much. He couldn't wait until he could see them again in a relaxed atmosphere. Excited, he began to fly, to get to his home faster. He was excited to hold this party. He did it every year, this year was no exception. A chance to relax and communicate with friends, with free food involved. That was what he did most every year. Should there be talented musicians nearby, he'd ask them to perform, but he couldn't find any this year. He still had to make the food.

He was happy as he entered his abode. The entire place was made out of ice, including all of the furniture, which was rather limited to a chair, a table and a bed. He thought out loud to himself. "What am I going to feed them? It's not like animals are easy to find around here, and both youkai and humans are out of the question. And there's no way in hell that they'd sell anything to me." He thought for a moment, then an idea came to him. "Fish! I'll make them fish." And with joy in his eyes, he flew out of his house to catch some fish.

Time passed, there were no fish to be caught, mostly because they were a bit too fast for the ice youkai, but also due to rarity as well. Not to mention that kill stealing maid from the mansion nearby, overlooking the lake. Already this was turning out to be a disaster. "Damn it." Adrian said, ice spear in his left hand. His red suit was soaking wet, and his blue hair clung to his face as if it were glued on. Though he hadn't made any attempt to move it yet.

Perhaps there are fruits and animals around? Despite it getting closer to night in the winter, there just might be something out. He moved to run, when he heard soounds of danmaku off in the distance. He looked that way, by the sounds of it, and by the feel of their magic, they were humans. He shrugged as he flew off. Today was a happy day, he wouldn't ruin it by getting involved. Why should he?

The sounds faded away after a time, but Adrian didn't notice it, as he was too busy looking for food. He was able to find a deer and some rabbits, but nothing else. He thought for a moment, how much would this feed? Not much, likely, but it was all he could find. He looked up into the sky and saw that it was almost dusk. He swore to himself before flying off towards his house.

When he got home, he got rid of the ice furniture, and began to clean his catches. It took him a while to cook, but when it was done, it didn't look too bad. He smiled in pride, at least there was something. The fairies never needed much in their parties, just other fairies, really. At least his clan did, anyway. He looked outside, it was dark, so it was almost time for the party.

An hour passed, and no one came. Adrian was beginning to get a little worried, why is there no one here? Did the fairies forget about me? At last, a fairy flew into the house, badly beaten up with large gashes on her arms. Her brown hair was messy, and filled with dirt. The sight shocked Adrian. "Yuki!" Adrian cried out in alarm. "What happened to you!?"

"We... we were attacked." Yuki groaned, her voice weak. "I... I was th-the only one wh-who got away." This statement stopped Adrian's good mood. "S-sorry... daddy."

"Are any of the others alive?" Adrian asked to Yuki, now starting to feel scared for the fairies, the ones that lived with him for his entire life. The dying fairy shook her head. "So the magic... is fading away after all. Oh, Yuki." Adrian looked at Yuki, her body slowly beginning to fade away.

"Happ-py N-new Years... d-daddy." Yuki stated at a tone no higher then a whisper before disappearing. Adrian looked at where she was, and tears began to fall from his eyes.

"No... this can't be... they're all dead? Just like that?" Adrian asked, beginning to convulse. He was about to cry. "I can't believe this... I just let them die... While I was working for this stupid party, the fairies must have been attacked!" He ran out of his abode and saw nothing. No fairies in sight. This sight shattered Adrian's heart. "N-no... it can't be..."

He looked at the mansion across the lake and glared at it. They had to be the ones behind this! ... But he wouldn't go, though he was very powerful, he doubted he could handle the Younger Scarlet Sister. Not to mention that they would overpower him if he attacked alone. Adrian sighed, his voice trembling. He had lost his allies, his family, the ones that had stuck with him from birth. But as he began to cry, something hugged his arm. He looked and saw another fairy, one with short blonde hair. "Please, don't cry daddy. You still have me, and the others from here." In reality, though, she herself wanted to cry, her brothers and sisters were just killed by the maid, a witch and some miko.

As the moon rose and sat, the two sat by each other, one thinking how dumb it was to try to hold a party in these conditions, and the other one concerned for her leader. But neither one was having a happy new year.
  #13    
Old December 31st, 2010 (02:14 AM). Edited December 31st, 2010 by Gumball Watterson.
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Alright, I'm done with mine. And I really think I've done satisfactoraly~

Spoiler:
…And Justice for Most
A New Year Negaishipping Short fic
AdvancedK47

Part 1


…but the subway refused to quiet down.

The light intensified… the noise was unbearable. Suddenly… there was peace for a few seconds...

“AAAGH!!!”

The short scream could have woken up the whole floor. Only the slumber in the room was disturbed.

“Ash, what’s wrong?!” exclaimed a girl, named Iris, from the bunk bed on top of the source of the scream, Ash Ketchum.

There was a quick crash of thunder, and rain continued to pour. Nobody could see anything.

The trainers were staying overnight at the Castelia City Pokémon Center. Nobody had seen a storm coming for the night, especially after a very cheerful Christmas just a few days ago.

“…Nothing,” replied Ash, “…just a little nightmare I guess.”

There was another quick crash of a noise… it wasn’t thunder, it was a snore.

“Iris… is Dent asleep?” asked Ash.

“Goodness, he must be,” replied Iris, “Even after your Oscar scream.”

“Kiba-kiba?”

“Pikaaa…”

The trainers’ Pokémon had awoken. Pikachu was at the foot of Ash’s bed, while Kibago was on Iris’s bed. There was a lot of confusion in the minds of both of the Pokemon.

“Ash, can we go talk outside for a second?” asked Iris.

“Sure thing,” replied Ash.

“Kibakib?” quietly and interrogatively cried Kibago.

“Please stay here, Kibago,” whispered Iris to her Pokémon.

“You too Pikachu,” said Ash to his Pokémon.

Another quick snore was released by Dent, still appearing to be asleep.

Ash got up from his bed and turned on the lamp in the center night table. Iris slowly got down from her bed to the floor, not giving a second thought to using the latter at the foot of her bed.

The door to the halls wasn’t far, and the floor didn’t make much noise, thankfully. Ash and Iris made their way outside the room.

They exited. Iris slowly closed the door behind them. The lighting in the hall was dim, but it still was a bit of trouble for the rudely awakened trainers’ eyes.

“Ash,” started Iris, “Was it… the subway again?”

“Yes it was,” replied Ash, very troubled, “I dunno why I keep having that dream. Ever since that loud noise on the subway… it’s been such a trouble.”

Iris reached out for Ash’s hand. They both held each other with care… with despair.

“I’m trying not to bring in superstition here,” said Iris, “But I’m really thinking about some chance that… this means something?”

“But there wasn’t anything strange besides the loud noise. I just don’t get it. I must be going crazy. “

There was a moment of silence.

“…I still can’t get over how miserable my loss at the Pokémon League was… Where did I go wrong? I promised Shooti that match at the finals. I didn’t get anywhere close. And now look at me!”

Ash started to shed a few tears.

“Ash, calm down, you’re gonna wake up someone,” said Iris, “I know this is tough for you. I know how you feel. You mean so much to me that your pain is my pain…”

Ash tried to gradually get himself together.

“I’m OK now,” lied Ash, still in despair, but not showing it.

“It’s almost a whole new year, Ash,” reassured Iris, and smiled, “Look towards what you’ll become, and don’t look back. There’s so much more to enjoy in life as well. Right now, let’s just relax, alright?”

The two embraced closely, feeling their bodies and their warmth… their passion… their intense desire for each other and their wellbeing.

“How about tomorrow we take the liner to Kanto?” asked Iris, “I’ll spend the New Year with you, and of course get to know your family.”

“What about your family?” asked Ash.

“The last few years I’ve never spent any time with them,” replied Iris, “It’s only been me and some relatives and the elders in Jadeswood. They won’t mind if I go with you.”

Ash smiled.

“Well, that’s all great, but there’s one more thing,” said Ash, “What about Dent?”

“Actually, that’s something I’ve wanted to ask you as well for a while now,” replied Iris, “I want to know when… or if he should know about… us. I mean, is it fair that we’ve been lying to him for a while now, even if it’s only been a matter of weeks?”

“Could be worse,” joked Ash, “But I think it’s about time he knew. Maybe we should both break it to him tomorrow. Just hope he doesn’t get jealous or something.”

“Ash, thing is… things have been sort of tense between Dent and me. Not too much, but he’s really starting to just not act like himself.”

“Maybe… he’ll feel better after New Year’s, when he’s spent a bit of time with his family,” said Ash, “If not, I’ll try to talk to him.”

“That’s good then,” replied Iris, “Then it’s settled, we’ll have that taken care of tomorrow.”

“Swell. Time to go back to sleep then.”

Ash and Iris stood in front of each other… smiled to each other. They approached each other. Time lost its meaning the closer they got, for when their lips finally touched, Time had no meaning. They kissed, hand in hand, breast upon breast, and heart to heart.

Eventually, Time dominated again, letting their love be visible again to the universe, and they made their way back inside.


“I wish you sweet dreams, Ash,” whispered Iris.



Part 2

“Oh dear, Ash, Iris, you two have ordered too much!” complained Dent.

A fresh morning was in the air. This morning was, as usual, accompanied by a hearty breakfast, courtesy of Ash and Iris.

“For your information, Dent,” objected Iris, “This Pokémon center serves about 20 grams less of weight in their pancakes! So if anything, we’ll be eating much less than usual!”

“Where the heck did you get that number?!” asked Dent.

“I have the gift of Psychofoodnisis! Don’t you complain!”

“Besides, Dent,” interrupted Ash, “Maybe you’re interfering a bit too much with our diet and lifestyle. In Kanto, my mom had regular orders of pancakes well above the size of these in her restaurant, the people there aren’t exactly fat or anything.”

“Well, I’m just not used to so much grotesque gluttonous consumption of food!” replied Dent.

“ORDER UP!” A waitress was headed the way of Ash and Iris.

“HECK YEA!” went the two in unison.

Ash and Iris got a single, extra-large, platter of pancakes to be shared by the two. Dent was served a petite cup of coffee. It didn’t take more than a few seconds for the table to turn into a total mess.

But Dent started to think a little bit. Ash and Iris felt comfortable sharing their meal with each other… too comfortable, compared to the earlier times of their travels.

“So Ash… Iris,” started Dent, “You two sure seem pretty comfortable sharing pancakes with each other.”

The two suddenly froze in their eating. They started to show they were slightly nervous. Ash took a quick look to Iris and nodded. Iris nodded back.

“Dent,” began Iris, “There’s something we have to tell you about… us. We are sort of… in a relationship, me and Ash. For a while now, really. We’re sorry we hadn’t told you.”

“Oh no, that’s OK,” replied Dent, smiling and apparently in agreement with the concept, “I’ve had that suspected for a while now. I really thought it was imminent for both of you. Congratulations!” Dent took a quick sip of his coffee.

“Oh, so you don’t have much against it?” asked Ash.

“Of course not,” replied Dent, “I’m happy for both of you.”

Ash and Iris both smiled, relieved by Dent’s thought on the matter.

“Dent, we should probably also tell you that we’re going to be spending the New Year over at my place, me and Iris,” said Ash,“ I don’t know if you would want to--”

“Oh no, I don’t wish to be a bother,” replied Dent, “Besides, I plan on spending it with my brothers. When are you leaving?”

“As a matter of fact… today,” answered Iris, slightly nervously, “Probably the 5 o clock boat back to Kanto.

“Well, as I like to say, the sooner the better,” replied Dent, still appearing to be cheerful.

Next thing he knew, Ash and Iris were pigging out again. Dent drank his coffee slowly, and innocently.

Eventually, breakfast was finished. The Pokémon were taken back from Nurse Joy and the trio made their way towards the port.

It wasn’t long when they had made it. It would be about a few more hours before the liner would depart, but it was better to board already

“Well, this is where we part ways now,” said Ash, “We’ll keep in touch to see what’ll be the thing after the holidays, alright?”

“Sure!” replied Dent, “Well, you two have a safe trip. I’m going to stay one more night here before heading back to Sanyou City.”

“Alright then, see ya!”

“Bye!”

Ash, Iris, and their Pokémon made their way towards the liner, and boarded.

“I guess… I’m by myself now.”

Dent slowly made his way back to the Pokémon Center… in deep thought… wondering…


Part 3

“Won’t your mom get mad if she catches me up here?”

“Just at me, don’t you worry. Besides, she’s busy setting up the party.”

It was already New Year’s Eve, the party for Ash’s family and friends was being held inside Ash’s house. Besides Ash and his family, Professor Oak and a few of his friends also decided to join the fun. It was a tad noisy since the preparations were just about finished, and people wanted to start socializing. The last sun of the year was starting to set, and the night of transition would begin in a few minutes.

Ash and Iris were up in Ash’s room. They were told to wait for a while until the celebration could commence. To pass the time, they played a few old board games Ash had in his room. The board game that was out was a complex-looking game called “Monopokély”

“I never really got this game completely. Not to mention I’m not exactly good with money,” commented Ash. He rolled a few die and moved his piece around the board.

“Looks like you’re in jail,” joked Iris.

“I’m too young to rot in here!”

“I’m loving this game! I think I’m winning!”

Ash and Iris continued with their struggle in the board game. Die were rolled everywhere, money was going all over the placed. They were basically having too much fun.

Eventually, Iris ran out of money. Apparently, that meant she had just lost the game.

“Iris… you just lost the game,” announced Ash.

“Nah, you cheated,” replied Iris. They were still having fun just being together and joke-bickering.

“If I don’t even know half the rules, I wouldn’t know how to cheat.”

Suddenly, Iris pounced on Ash. Ash fell to the floor with Iris set on top of him. She may have been light, but she was pretty strong.

“I… won this time,” whispered Iris, with an enamored smiled on her face.

“Just what exactly did you win?” asked Ash.

Iris’s face slowly approached Ash, and she started to settle and embrace him.

“… you”

And a kiss, a kiss throughout the lips of the two young lovers, a kiss out of the reach of Time once again, was all that existed in that moment. Hand in hand, breast upon breast, and heart to heart.

Final Part

Days passed by. Dent had actually remained in Castelia City. He had remembered that earlier in the month his brothers were forced to take care of some tasks unknown to him, and they were in different areas of Unova. He decided to not go back, as it wouldn’t be fair for Pod, who was the one away at the moment.

The streets of Castelia City were not too crowded. Everyone was either downtown getting ready for the New Year, or at their homes with their families. Dent was just traveling around Castelia city, regretting not having explored it the last time he was here.

Restaurants… museums… parks… 11:45

Everybody was getting ready to greet the New Year. Dent, however, remained in his melancholy, a very gray melancholy. Nobody minded the light rain that accompanied the festivities, but it only made Dent think more.

A quick, small sound of thunder rang. Only Dent could hear it, for he was by himself, outside, sitting on a bench. Everyone else would never know there was any thunder that night.

Dent’s only illumination was the street light beside his bench.

“I guess… it just wasn’t meant to be. I mean, I really had so much respect for him, I really looked up to him… but what I would have rather felt for him would have never been reciprocated… Do I have no choice but to just accept it, and be happy for them?

“… Yeah, that’s all that can be said.”

Dent read his watch. 11:50.

“May as well get up and make my way back to the Pokémon Center before the ruckus.”

Dent stood up from his bench. Nearby, closer to the downtown, there was an entrance to a subway station. Dent was surprised it was still running, even more surprised people
traveled at this hour, but he decided to take the opportunity.

“No much I can do about this,” said Dent, still very pensive. Dent took out a small identification card to pass the gateways. He suddenly impacted shoulders with a man, quickly, but strongly.

“Hey kid! Watch where you’re going!”

Dent paid no attention, and just continued along.

The crowd at the subway stop wasn’t very large. An electronic board up on one of the walls displayed an arrival exactly at 12 o clock, only a few minutes away.

“I may as well forget anything with me and him. It just won’t do.”

Suddenly, the TV broadcast had a serious increment of volume. The local news network was on, and announcing from downtown, where a large clock was visible and only 30 seconds away from the New Year.

“ALRIGHT PEOPLE! WHO’S READY TO GO ON WITH OUR COUNTDOWN!” shouted the announcer, also apparently very excited.

“Agh… too noisy,” thought Dent.

“20!...19!...18!”

“What much of a reason is there to be happy this new year? The guy… kid I was foolishly admiring doesn’t think of me the same way. Well… I can’t blame him.”

“10!...9!...”

“Right… the countdown feels like its slowing down…”

“6!... 5!...”

“Agh… it’s too loud for me!”

Dent’s thought started to race very fast.

“…4!”

“Make it stop…”

“…3!...”

The noise…”

“…2!...”

“…everyone but me being happy…”

“…1!...”

At the sound of the last number, as fast as Dent’s thoughts had raced, Dent flinched. Suddenly, he had no control of his body. A squeak… Dent had slipped on a puddle.

No control… no hope. Dent was too close to the tracks.

BAM! Head first on the tracks, knees scraped on the ground, Dent had fallen and paralyzed in that instant.

Drowned out by the noise… the celebration… but no longer… the train’s honk intensified. The ground rumbled.

“Why… is it so loud?... please quiet down”

But the subway refused to quiet down. The light intensified… the noise was unbearable…

Dent’s final thoughts… were not given enough time, nor mercy, to change.

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  #14    
Old December 31st, 2010 (07:05 AM).
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Bluerang1
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Hiougi City
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Ok thanks Bob! Mine's submitted now. It on public display here!
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  #15    
Old December 31st, 2010 (07:55 AM).
Kevin's Avatar
Kevin
kevin del rey
Community Supporter
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Virginia
Age: 16
Gender: Male
Well, here's mine. We're supposed to submit it here and to Zeffy, right?

Title:
2011 - The Beginning of a Romantic Year
Spoiler:
Spoiler:
I have a confession to make. I’m in love with a girl in one of my classes at school. But I don’t think she even recognizes me… But by the end of the year, I have a feeling she will.

My name is Thomas. I’m 14 years old, and am a freshman at high school. I’m one of those quiet people that sit in the back all the time. No one makes fun of me, no one talks to me. I’m just there.


The girl I like… Her name is Sarah. She has long, black hair, smooth olive skin, and pretty green eyes. She is one of those popular girls that hang out in those groups. But she’s different from the others. She actually is nice to other people.


I never thought about confessing my feelings to her, and how she would take it. So I kept those feelings to myself. I first saw her last year in middle school, when we were both 13 years old. We still never talked, but she does know me.


Anyways, today was Friday, December 31st, 2010. Last day of school for the year 2010. I was thinking of telling her I liked her, but…


When walking to school, I walk on the same path as Sarah does. We never talk, but we walk together. Some people say we date, but we don’t. Today, I was thinking of telling her when walking to school.


I put on my coat, grabbed my backpack, and opened the door to the snowy outside world. There was tons of snow out, and yet we still had to go to school.


As I started down the path, I noticed Sarah. She was beautiful, with a brown leather coat over faded jeans, hiking boots, and a plain white t-shirt.


I walked towards her. She noticed me, and smiled. “Oh, hi… Your name is Thomas, right…?” she asked.


I blushed. “Y-yes. How did you—?”


“I know everyone in my classes,” she said. “Even the quiet ones, like you.”


We started talking more while walking down the sidewalk. “So… Why did you need me?” I asked.


“Well… You see…” she started. “It’s not like I needed you… But, I wanted to tell you something.”


I blushed, and then straightened myself. “What was it?”


She winked. “Start talking more! Be yourself! Say what you want to say!”


I looked at her, like she just killed me. “Um, what?”

Sarah grinned. “Just some New Year’s encouragements and such.”

“Oh…” I said. “Um, thanks, I guess.”


Then we walked to school and into our classes together. The whole day I thought about what she said. She was right; I needed to be myself. That’s the only way I can confess my feelings for her. She was a nice person, so she wouldn’t be mean if she rejected me.


At the end of the day, when walking home, I walked up to her again, just like in the morning.


“Hey, Sarah…” I started. I think I was blushing.


“Yes?” she asked.


“Do you want to… to go out?” I asked her.


And the whole world seemed to be silent for an entire minute.


She smiled. “Be yourself… Haha, looks like the words got to you…”


“Um, what?” I asked.


“Huh? Oh, nothing,” Sarah replied. “I’ll think about it.” Then she started to rush home. But before that, she planted a kiss on my cheek.


I was probably blushing hard. I stood there for a while. Then I started to walk home. I looked at my watch. It was 4:00 PM already.


I cursed, and started to run home.


At home, after dinner, I walked out and climbed onto my roof. It was a good place for me to think, and relax from problems. I thought about the kiss Sarah gave me. Would we go out? Does she like me back? Questions were running thorough my head.


Then all of a sudden, Sarah was climbing onto my roof. I helped her get on top, and asked: “Why are you here?”


She grinned, and replied: “I think I made up my mind.”


She kissed me on my lips, and I thought for a second. Was it a yes? I didn’t really care at the moment, actually, and closed my eyes. I could here New Year fireworks happening at the moment.


When I opened my eyes, there were fireworks. Beautiful, of many colors. One shot across the sky saying: Happy New Years!


I grabbed Sarah’s hand and we watched the fireworks from the roof for the rest of the evening.
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  #16    
Old December 31st, 2010 (08:47 AM).
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Zeffy
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: easter island
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Send a message via Skype™ to Zeffy
I'm glad there's people who joined! I hope to see more soon, though. You still have, more or less, 24 hours to submit your entry! :D

Look for the time here. Remember: 1:00 AM GMT-11! :D
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  #17    
Old December 31st, 2010 (03:02 PM). Edited December 31st, 2010 by -Jared-.
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-Jared-
Certified Responsible Adult
Community Supporter
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Northern California
Age: 23
Gender: Male
Nature: Gentle
Ooh, I'll join! I just need to find time later to proofread my entry and then finally enter it. This post is where I will post it. ^__^

EDIT: Here it is! It is Final Fantasy Tactics A2 themed. I hope it doesn't confuse everyone out there who hasn't played it...

Krismas?:
Spoiler:
“Brr, it’s cold. I hate Blackfrost!”

A bundled up Luso Clemens complained about the frigid weather of the Rupie Mountains as he and the rest of Clan Gully trudged through the mountains on their way towards their destination. They had accepted a request to meet their client near one of the nameless mountains that made up the Rupies. It was always cold up there, but in winter, it was almost a fool’s mission to trudge through the mountain range. Luso suddenly asked “Hey guys, can we camp for now? The weather’s pretty bad.”

A few yards ahead, Cid, the Rev who had accepted Luso into the clan after their mysterious encounter in Targ Wood, stopped chatting with the hume he was walking with and turned around.

“Hrm? Luso, that’s the fourth time you’ve asked today. We’re on a bit of a schedule, and we’re running short on time.” He stopped walking and let Luso catch up. “What’s gotten into you? You’re always gung ho about going faster than anyone else.”

Luso caught up and shivered, saying “Well, I’m sorry that I feel a tad tired!”

“Hrah?! You’re tired?! You’re less than half my age; you should have more than three times my energy!”

“That’s never been an issue when you wanted to rest!”

“Hold it, hold it,” came a voice from back down the trail. “Arguing never solved anything better than a little rest did,” Adelle chimed in. The female hume walked up beside Luso and leaned on his shoulder. “Right, Cid?” She gave a wink and a slight grin.

“That doesn’t make any sense.” Cid sighed.

“So what? I’m saying, the rest of the clan is tired-in more ways than one-and would like a rest.” Adelle replied.

“What was that?”

“Nothing, nothing, so whaddya say? Just a little rest? Please?” Adelle pleaded.

Cid gave a heavy sigh. “Fine, fine, but only cuz you were so polite.” He rolled his eyes and walked ahead to let the other clan members know.

“Uh, thanks I guess,” Luso said to Adelle. He started walking up ahead.

“Hold it. “ Adelle reached forward and grabbed Luso’s hand. “Is that any way to thank a lady who just gave you what you wanted?” She let go of his hand and stomped around and stood in front of him. “What do you think woud be a more proper way of thank me?”

“I dunno,” Luso grumbled, somewhat irritably. “Some Galmia clothes?”

“No! I want- well, that does sound comfortable right now…but that’s not what I was aiming for!” She stomped her foot in a huff. “I know you couldn’t possibly know what to get me in terms of clothes. I thought at the very least, you could let me in on whatever it is that has you all in a fit.”

Luso stared blankly at her for a moment before sighing and walking past her. “None of your business, really. It’ll pass.” He continued onward until he heard Adelle run up beside him.

“Yeah. Fat chance. Really, what is it?”

“Why do you care? If you ask me, you’re the one out of character.” Luso responded curtly.

Adelle sighed. “Fine, bottle it all up, tough guy. It’ll all come out later.” She walked away, leaving Luso behind.

“What the heck?” Luso felt confused. Adelle never was this curious about his life. Maybe she was curious after the whole possessed-by-a-swamp-spirit incident that had taken place a while back. “That has to be it.” Luso thought. “No other explanation.” He had started catching up to the rest of the clan.
-- -- --
A fire was crackling and snapping as the clan settled down for the rest of the evening. They had set up multiple fires since their clan had grown quite large in recent times. By one fire, there was a small group of Viera, including a red mage who was keeping the fire stoked with a Fire spell and a spellblade who had just come back from gathering fire wood. Another fire had a Hume blue mage telling some juicy stories to his Hume hunter and Nu Mou illusionist friends. Cid and Adelle were warming some food up near another fire, along with a Seeq ranger who had just returned from a hunting trip, and was pleased to show how much werewolf he had managed to bag. And by another fire, Luso Clemens sat by himself. He was trying to warm up his hands by sticking them in the fire, but he jerked them back quickly with a quiet but still audible yelp.

“Not too bright, are you?” a voice came from behind, startling Luso. Adelle sat down next to Luso.

“How did you even know I hurt myself?” Luso asked. He was rubbing his hands together gingerly, trying to warm them up without risking another burn.

“You think you’re quiet enough to avoid MY detection? Puh-leeze,” Adelle laughed. She reached into a pouch and pulled out a pair of gloves. “Here use this if you’re so cold. They were on sale; I couldn’t resist getting another pair!” Luso slipped the somewhat frilly gloves on his hands.

“Gah, so frilly.” He faked a wince and laughed slightly, and immediately returned to sulking. “But thanks anyways.” They sat in silence, listening to the sounds of the rest of the clan chatting, eating, and laughing for a while, before Adelle couldn’t stand it any longer.

“Alright, Luso, what’s up? It’s not like you to sulk around all day. I thought we fixed this when we destroyed that swamp phantom thing.” Adelle said.

Luso thought quietly for a moment before responding, “Why do you even care? I’ve never seen you so symp…sympta…caring!”

Adelle laughed. “I’m full of surprises, aren’t I?” She leaned back on her hands. “Let’s just say, you’re story’s kinda interesting, you see? I just wanna know what’s going on in this chapter.”

Luso rolled his eyes and hugged his knees. “Fine, fine, whatever.” He responded. “I was just thinking…thinking of home.”

“Ah, homesickness, eh? Too bad it’s not as easy for you to cure.” Adelle replied. She poked the fire with a stick she had seen nearby.

“Oh whatever,” Luso snapped.

“No, no, do go on!” Adelle insisted.

“Well…you see, hey, have you ever heard of Christmas?” Luso asked, perking his head up a little.

“Kris…mas? Nope. Who is he?” Adelle asked. She could tell this would be kind of interesting.

“Not a he, an it. It’s a holiday that’s celebrated all over the real world. Er, I mean, my real world. See, it takes place in our month of December, which is kinda like Blackfrost. And the whole family gets together, and we eat a huge meal, and we give presents to each other, and it’s a lot of fun” Luso explained. “But…I kinda miss it. I mean, I haven’t had any of my aunt’s famous Christmas kramkakas!”

Adelle stared blankly at Luso. “Sounds like a big deal to you.” She said after some thought.

“Well...” Luso sighed, “yeah, it kinda is. I mean, I kinda forgot about it last Blackfrost, you know, being excited about being in a new world and all, but this year, it hit me like a brick. I wonder if my aunt is okay…” Luso sighed and returned to hugging his knees. At this point, Adelle knew no more talking was probably the best thing for her friend. She stood up and said “Ah, okay. Well, don’t go burning your hands any more.” And with that, she walked back over to Cid. Luso was confused. “Why does she even care? Hmmmm…”

-- -- --

Adelle walked over to to where Cid as sitting. “Well?” the large man asked.

“I think I know how to snap him out of it.”

“Hrm. I see.”

-- -- --

Luso tossed and turned in his bed. They had finished their mission, and had headed to Moorabella. He always had a bit of a hard time sleeping the uncomfortable beds that the hotels there had to offer, but tonight he had had a particularly rough night. It didn’t help that pub downstairs seemed particularly rowdy and noisy. He just figured a group of Bangaas had come in from a mission well done and were partying their earnings away. After several hours of uncomfortable sleeping, Luso finally decided to give up on a good night’s rest and go wander about. He got up and decided to walk around town a bit. Before he could open the door, however, the door was slammed open and Adelle crashed into him.

“Ugh! Get out of my way, I’ve got to- Oh!” she yelled with a start. “Just the guy I was looking for! Come on down!” Her attitude changed suddenly as she skipped down the stairs.

“…Huh?” Luso was utterly confused. He walked down the stairs slowly, wary of any trickery Adelle might be up to. He made it down to the pub area, and gave a small gasp. “…Huh?!” he repeated.

He couldn’t believe what he saw. The entire pub was decorated from top to bottom in festive ribbons, streamers, and other decorations. There were tables covered in colorful cloth, the lights had been colored yellow and orange, there was lots of food, and his entire clan was standing by a large deciduous tree that had a large number of wrapped boxes laying underneath.

The clan members all looked at each other, pointed to a sign above their heads, and said “Happy Krismas!”

Luso was shocked. Is this what had been keeping him up all night?

“Whaddya think?” Adelle asked. She walked over and grabbed Luso’s arm. She dragged him around to the pub’s bar. “Barkeep! Large glass of warm malboro cider, on their tab!” she barked out happily. “Sure thing, miss!” the barkeep responded.

“What is this?” Luso asked incredulously as he looked around in awe.

“Well, it IS almost time for an annual Ivalice holiday. We never celebrate it ‘cuz we’re always on some quest or another, but this year, Cid and I figured, what the hey, let’s get everyone together for a good ol’ time!” Adelle responded. “And, you never answered my question. Whaddya think?”

Luso started to laugh a little. He locked his hands behind his head and replied with a grin, “Well, first off, it’s ‘Merry Christmas’ not ‘Happy Krismas.’” Adelle stared blankly at him, mouth agape, as he continued. “You’re supposed to decorate it red and green, not orange and yellow, and the tree is supposed to be an evergreen, not on of thos leaf-dropping trees!” Adelle immediately took to smacking him upside the head.

“That’s what you have to say, you ungrateful, selfish, lousy-” Luso stopped her rant and grabbed her hand.

“Thank you all anyways, though,” he said, now grinning from ear to ear. Adelle stopped her rampage and smiled. “You pain in the butt. Oh!”

She ran behind the bar and pulled a bag out from underneath the counter. It was somewhat garish in its colors and tied in very intricately in lots of brightly colored ribbon, but nonetheless was intriguing to Luso. She ran back over to Luso and said, “We all figured we would exchange gifts as well. Sounded like a good idea to me!”

Luso laughed and said “Of course it does. So this is from you?”

Adelle smiled and said, “Yup! Open it. Go on, any day now!”

Luso sat down at a table and set the gift down. He set his fingers to work unraveling the ribbons that Adelle had tied, which proved to be a somewhat arduous task, as Luso realized the Adelle’s nimble fingers were much better and tying bows that his were at untying them. Finally, after much frustration (and giggling from Adelle and the rest of the clan) Luso gave up and pulled out a small knife and cut the ribbon off. “That’ll fix it,” he laughed. He unwrapped the gift and gasped in awe at what was in the bag.

It was a plate of kramkakas, just like the cookies his aunt used to make every winter. He stared at them, then at Adelle, then at the cookies, and back to Adelle. “But, how, when, it’s not, what is this, I don’t even…” he stammered on before Adelle started in.

“These are a delicacy in Flourgis. They call them spiralcakes, obviously due to there shape. I figured, you’ve got a giant sweet tooth, so these would be-” she was interrupted by a sudden rush and a hug from Luso.

“These are kramkakas! The ones I told you my aunt makes! How did you get them?!” he said after he let go. Adelle was slightly taken aback by the sudden affection, but felt happy that her gift had been so welcome.

“Kramkakas? They’re called spiral cakes,” Adelle laughed. “But you’re very welcome.” She smiled warmly. She kinda liked the new Luso, hugging and all.

Luso started wolfing down the cookies, and the rest of the clan proceeded to exchange their gifts.
-- -- --

Cid and the rest of the clan decided to clean the pub area and let Luso and Adelle head outside. Adelle led Luso to a nearby bench and sat down.

“Phew, party planning is a lot of work. Especially on such short notice!” Adelle said, letting out a large, tired sigh.

Luso took a seat next to her. He smiled and said, “Thanks. I needed that.”

Adelle said nothing and just smiled. She leaned back a little and said “I expect you to do the same for me next Blackfrost, you hear me?”

Luso laughed. “Haha, yeah, yeah, I get it.”

The wind picked up a little and carried some fresh snow around. The moon started to rise, and Adelle and Luso decided to help clean up. As they went in, Luso thought “Hmmm, so this is what she was doing.” He felt a warm glow inside and entered the pub, feeling refreshed.
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  #18    
Old December 31st, 2010 (10:10 PM).
Hitoshizuku's Avatar
Hitoshizuku
something shining
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Gender: Female
Nature: Lonely
kk, here's mine! Happy New Year to everybody!

Title: First Station
Spoiler:

Snow had been drifting down since dusk – not the coarse dirty hail that often swept down from Mt. Coronet, but an airy dusting that floated more than it fell. Twinkling over numerous neon street signs, the fine crystals glided leisurely onto roadways and sidewalks, where the still bustling crowds promptly kicked them into grey slush.

As always, the street fronts flaunted the very best of their holiday finery. Meter-high candy canes and automaton Stantler blared carols in front of the hotels and department stores, most of which sported “Best Holiday Deals!” and “After Christmas Sale – Limited Time Only!” signs as their most prominent decorations. The largest sign in town, a monstrous billboard mounted atop a cluster of skyscrapers, flashed “Welcome to Snowpoint City – Sinnoh’s Year-Round Winter Wonderland!” in ten-foot-tall block letters. It was flanked by the tops of two fiber optic Christmas trees, each strewn with enough ornaments to bedeck entire orchids of normal pines. Below, strings of technicolor lights and plastic light-up icicles crisscrossed between rooftops, weaving vibrant webs over much of the night sky.

In all of Snowpoint, in fact, there was only one place wholly free of decoration – a small, unlit lean-to at the city’s southernmost tip. Covered in peeling white paint that blended into the surrounding snow, the rundown building was a marked contrast to the rest of the city, as well as to the sleek silver-plated train zooming towards it.

“Last station, Snowpoint City,” chimed a pleasant electronic voice as the train smoothly slowed to a stop. “We hope you have enjoyed your trip aboard the Sinnoh Platinum Express! Please ride with us again.”

The doors along the sides of the train parted with a synchronized swish, and out breezed several dozen late night partygoers. Filling the air with animated conversations and raucous laughter, they made a beeline for the colorful lights ahead. Not one noticed the shadowy form standing in front of the old station, its breaths rising up in ghostly wisps.

As the train pulled away, the creature, an aged Luxray, sunk heavily onto the ground, dropping its shaggy head against outstretched paws. A strong gust swept another bout of snowflakes towards the station. They landed and clung to the Pokémon’s grey-streaked fur, which had long been matted with filth. Even as the wind intensified, progressively burying the Luxray in snow, the old Pokémon made no effort to move. Instead, it kept its gaze fixed on the train tracks, its once sharp red eyes clouded by cataracts.

Disembodied words, amplified a hundred times over by loudspeaker, flew past with the howling wind. “A Happy New Year’s Eve to everybody in Snowpoint City – Sinnoh’s one and only winter wonderland!” an announcer was saying in the distance. “Remember every day is a holiday in Snowpoint! We’d like to give a special thanks to our very own mayor, Colin Sayers, now on his eighth consecutive term, and the Snowpoint Tourism Commission for sponsoring tonight’s events! Is everybody ready to count down with us to the New Year?”

As snow continued to whip against its face, the Luxray’s already failing vision grew increasingly blurry. Veins of blackness seeped in at the edges, gradually engulfing its entire field of view.

“Ten…” came the voice again, sounding much farther away than before.

Emaciated body shuddering with each increasingly laborious breath, the Luxray continued staring into the darkness.

Nine…

Slowly, breaths dwindled into whispered sighs, frostbitten limbs slacked and slumped forward, and a long-stuttering heartbeat slipped into a distant echo.

Eight…

Slowly, tired red eyes slid shut with no further resistance.

Seven…

More snow floated down throughout the night, covering all bumps and blemishes below with a gentle white shroud. It had frozen into ice by the time the janitor came to clear out the trash, in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Six…

The trashcan hit the train platform with a clang, scattering its contents all over the snow-covered cement. Ignoring the pungent stench, the Luxray shoved its nose through the mess before zoning in on a box of expired rice cakes. In a frenzy of motion, the starving Pokémon tore off the plastic wrap with its teeth and scarfed down half the package. Choking as the sticky cakes balled up in its throat, it retched them back out only seconds later. Eyeing what it had just spit up, then the remainder of the trash, the Luxray lowered its head and started chewing its thrown-up food more carefully.

A faint noise in the distance, however, caused the Pokémon’s rounded blue ears to twitch. Raising its head, it quickly bounded back up the platform, skidding to a stop in front of the ticket booth. The train blasted past not a second later, the head car screeching to a halt several hundred meters down the track.

The ticket vendor, a stout balding man with a wispy grey beard, peered out the booth window. “You’ve never missed a train yet, have ya, big guy?” the man chuckled, reaching over to ruffle the fur on the Pokémon’s head. “Rain or shine, you’re just like clockwork.” With a somewhat wistful smile, he gazed down the long empty platform. “You and me are the only ones who never quit coming, huh?”

The Luxray swished its thin black tail in acknowledgement, though its eyes never left the train.

“Last station, Snowpoint City!” blared a prerecorded message over the intercom. “Last station on the Sinnoh North Line Inbound!”

The train doors slid open under the Luxray’s attentive gaze, and a number of people streamed out. Red eyes brightening into a gleaming gold, then darting swiftly back and forth, the Pokémon carefully scanned the incoming crowd. Some of the passengers gave the Luxray a friendly pat as they passed, while others, long accustomed to the sight of the large Electric Pokémon in front of the station, ignored it completely. As the crowd filtered away, the Luxray sank disappointedly onto its haunches, eyes returning to their normal red hue.

The ticket vendor sympathetically stroked the Pokémon’s head. “Hold on, big guy, I got you a late Christmas present,” he said, pulling out a cardboard carton. The Luxray’s nose twitched. Without any reservations, it snatched up the carton and gulped down its contents – a large hot dog liberally drizzled with ketchup and mayonnaise.

“Hey, hey, don’t choke!” the ticket vendor laughed. He fell silent as a set of footsteps thudded towards them. A tall man in an impeccably pressed suit was approaching from the city, his strides brusque and efficient.

Licking the last bits of ketchup from its face, the Luxray glanced up and suddenly froze.

That lanky build…that shock of jet black hair…

Rising onto all fours, the Luxray tentatively took a step forward.

But, no, this hair was meticulously straightened and combed back, those eyes a piercing blue and surrounded by metal-rimmed glasses. Sighing, the Pokémon lowered itself back against the wall.

“Happy New Year to ya, Mayor Sayers,” the ticket vendor called with a cheerful wave. “Back to work already?” He beamed proudly. “That’s Colin Sayers for ya, I always say. Always working real hard for the city and all. Even when ya was just a kid, I always said you’d be somethin’ real great…”

The man in the suit gave a curt smile that did not reach his eyes. “I’m afraid I have some bad news, Bernie,” he said without prevarication. “You’re fired as of next week.”

“Wha…but…I’ve been at this job for ten years, Mr. Mayor! I can’t possibly…that’s to say, I don’t…” At a complete loss for further words, the ticket vendor could only splutter incoherently. Red eyes flashing, the Luxray’s body tensed.

“It’s nothing to do with you personally, Bernie,” Colin Sayers replied brusquely. Reaching up with one gloved hand, he made to straighten his already immaculate powder blue tie. “Your work has been very important to us. But the whole station needs to be torn down. It’s part of the Snowpoint City Beautification Project.”

“Beautifi-what?” Bernie squawked.

Mayor Sayers regarded the other man with an even colder smile than before. “You know how bad the economy is, Bernie, how many people have already had to move out,” he said in the deliberate way a teacher might lecture a not-so-bright child. “Snowpoint City’s small and isolated, Bernie. Cold. Not many people besides trainers come up here, and that’s not been very good for local businesses. And you can’t deny that things have been getting…well…a bit shoddy.” Glancing over his shoulder, he disdainfully eyed the pile of trash that the Luxray had spilled earlier.

“So we’re going to reimage the city, Bernie, remake it into the number one travel destination in all of Sinnoh,” the mayor continued, making a sweeping gesture. “Snowpoint City – Sinnoh’s Year-Round Winter Wonderland! Doesn’t that sound trendy? We’ll put up Christmas trees and decorations all year, have big parades and countdown parties for New Year’s Eve…tear down this old train station and put in a nice new subway line…”

The ticket vendor was appalled. “But then we’d become just another tourist trap like the Battle Frontier!” he blurted. “What about Snowpoint’s history and heritage and all that?” His voice grew strained, hoarsely pleading. “Your own father grew up in this town! What would he think of this, Colin?”

Something flashed in the mayor’s bespectacled blue eyes. Lips tightening in a thin line, he let both hands fall stiffly to his sides. “My father was a fool who wouldn’t support his family,” Mayor Sayers said tonelessly, carefully ironing all traces of emotion from his face. “A child who ran away from his responsibilities. If he never cared about me back then, why would he think anything of me now?”

Turning away with a swish of his suit jacket, he started for the station gates. “We’ll be sending workers to demolish the train station on Monday,” he said curtly. “Please remove all personal belongings before then.”

Before the mayor could pass, however, the Luxray swiftly leapt in front of him. Snarling, the large Pokémon braced its formidable claws against the ground. “Lux lux!” it barked, thick black fur rising along the back of its head.

“Get out of the way,” Colin Sayers said calmly.

Still growling, the Luxray lowered itself into a crouch. Fingers of electricity crackled through its fur.

“Please, Colin!” Bernie begged from behind the ticket counter. “Tear down the whole city if you like, but at least leave the train station alone! That poor Luxray ain’t got nothing else, and you know it!”

With a sudden push, the Luxray reeled onto its hind legs with its front paws flailing. As the man tried to shove the agitated Pokémon away, both of them tumbled onto the ground.

Teeth bared, the Luxray lurched forward. Throwing his arms in front of his face, the mayor was surprised to find an abrupt pressure around his neck. Hesitantly lowering his hands, he saw that the Luxray was holding one end of his powder blue tie between its teeth.

“Lux!” the Pokémon snapped out through the thin fabric.

Face flushed and glasses askew, Colin Sayers looked directly into the panting Pokémon’s bright red gaze. For several tense moments, man and Pokémon were locked into a mutual stare. The growl reverberating in the Luxray’s throat gradually faded, leaving only an uneasy silence in its place.

Letting the blue tie fall from its mouth, the Luxray’s crimson eyes darkened with an inexplicable sadness.

Finally, the mayor turned away with an irritated grunt. “I suppose we could just repaint the station,” he said coldly, readjusting his glasses. With a soft snort, the Luxray grudgingly stepped to the side. The mayor shoved past without even looking at the Pokémon, futilely trying to fix his ruined tie.

“He left you behind, too, you know,” he said suddenly, pausing on the threshold of the gates. “I thought you’d realize that eventually. But you’re just a Pokémon, after all.”

He was gone without another word, leaving the Luxray to stare at his retreating back.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Five…

A strident clang rang out as the chain was yanked to its full length. With a strangled yelp, the Luxray was wrenched abruptly back by its collar. Each pant sending vaporous clouds into the chilly air, the Pokémon lurched back onto its feet. Aggravation mounting, it paced restlessly around the cramped front yard. Then, jaws clenched, it lunged forward with all its might…only to be snapped back to the fence post with another noisy crash.

“Hey, hey!” Dropping his snow shovel in the middle of the driveway, a boy with thick black hair dashed towards the Luxray. “Calm down!” he hissed, reaching ineffectually towards the snarling Pokémon. “Mom’s gonna get mad if you don’t stop making noise, and then you’ll have to go back into your PokéBall…remember how much you hated that!”

“Colin!” The house door clicked open, revealing a woman in a frayed grey sweater and long faded dress. “What’s gotten into that Pokémon now?” she demanded, rubbing at the deep wrinkles around her tired blue eyes. “The neighbors are going to call again if it keeps making such a ruckus!”

“Don’t worry, Mom!” the boy said as the burly Pokémon made another running jump, ground shaking as it slammed back into the snow. “He’s just needs to burn off some extra energy! Calm down, boy!” Colin repeated, voice growing increasingly desperate as the Luxray’s fur began to bristle with static. “Please calm down!”

The woman’s fingers moved to a now throbbing point in her temples. “What are we going to do with that Pokémon?” she sighed in frustration, closing her eyes. “We can’t let it out anymore if this behavior keeps up. Or else we need to seriously think about giving it away.”

“He just misses Dad!” Colin protested, flinging his arm in front of the Luxray’s now glowing body. “He misses battling!” Hands curling in small fists, the boy’s bright blue eyes blazed determinedly. “If only I could be a Pokémon trainer,” he said, gazing fiercely at his mother, “I could take him travelling, and he’d be so much happier! Mom…”

Stop it, Colin!” the woman cried. “Pokémon training is a child’s game, and once you grow up you’ll know better!” Her voice, which had just escalated into a shrill shout, faded into little more than a whisper. “Do you want to become a deadbeat like your father?” she asked quietly, burying her forehead in the palm of one hand. “Do you want to run off and leave all your responsibilities behind, just like him?”

Hands falling to his sides, the boy tightened his lip.

“Lux!” With a final yank, the Luxray uprooted the entire fence. The wooden slats clattered onto the ice as the Pokémon sprung forward, jerking its chain off the unearthed post. Metal links rattling against the ground, the Luxray tore away from the house at breakneck speed.

“Last station, Snowpoint City!” sounded a shout in the distance.

Jaw tightening, the Luxray ran faster, paws leaving only the shallowest of imprints as they flew across the street. Taking an abrupt turn, it nearly crashed into a group of trainers loitering outside the Snowpoint Gym. One surprised boy fell into the snow as the Pokémon’s chain whipped past, narrowly avoiding a collision. Oblivious to the near miss, the Luxray headed for a white building directly in its line of sight. It reached its destination just as a small black train chugged up the tracks, stopping right in front.

As train’s passengers began to descend, quite a few did a double take at the huge and rather intimidating Pokémon panting in front of the station. Some of the exiting travelers, unnerved by the Luxray’s intense gaze, hurried away through the station gates. One, a small girl, tried to pet the large Pokémon on the nose before her mother hastily pulled her away.

“What in Arceus’s name…?” gawked a nearby hotdog vendor, leaning over his cart. “Bernie, take a look at this!” he hollered. “That Luxray’s back again!”

Down the platform, a ruddy-faced man with thick, curly red hair poked his head out from over the ticket booth. “Why, I’ll be!” he exclaimed as he caught sight of the hefty Electric Pokémon. “Stubborn lug. Poor Mrs. Sayers ain’t gonna be happy about this, I reckon.”

“Think he’s after my hotdogs?”

Bernie snorted at this. “No one wants your hotdogs, Stan. They do funny things to one’s stomach, they do.”

As the two men began to bicker across the station platform, the Luxray settled onto its haunches. Its ears prickled up every now and then at occasional noises in the distance, disappointedly drooping back against its head once said sounds proved unworthy of notice.

The tired-looking woman from the house appeared a quarter of an hour later with the black-haired boy in tow.

“Happy New Year’s, Mrs. Sayers!” Bernie called, momentarily interrupting his squabbling with the hotdog seller to wave. “You, too, Colin,” the ticket vendor added with a nod. “Why, you get taller every time I see you!” He shot a smart salute at the boy, who shyly tried to return it.

“I’m very about all the trouble that the Luxray has caused,” Mrs. Sayers said, stooping to grab a hold of the chain still attached to offending Pokémon’s collar. Looking back, she sighed at the long, messy trail said chain had razed through the snow behind it, marking the haphazard path that the Luxray had taken. “The poor Pokémon seems to be in a bit of an off-mood lately,” she said with a strained smile.

“Off? When is his mood ever on?” the hotdog seller snorted. “That Pokémon comes down as regular as hail from Mt. Coronet!”

“Stan!” Bernie reprimanded. Turning back to the woman, he smiled understandingly. “Maybe you outta leave the Luxray with us, Mrs. Sayers, since he likes it here so much. I’ll talk to the manager, see if we can’t find a place in the back for him to sleep. He can be the station mascot or somethin’ like that.”

The woman shook her head. “We couldn’t possibly inconvenience you,” she replied, giving a sharp tug on the chain. “Come on,” she hissed desperately to the Pokémon at the other end.

The Luxray didn’t budge.

“It ain’t an inconvenience, Mrs. Sayers,” Bernie said as the woman ineffectually continued to struggle with the immobile Pokémon. “Taking that Luxray’s the least we can do for you and Colin.”

“We can only imagine how hard it’s been for the two of you, ever since Mr. Sayers ran off with that hussy from Hoenn last year,” the hotdog vendor supplied sympathetically.

“Stan!” Bernie shushed, more sternly before.

Though she didn’t say anything, Mrs. Sayers’ eyes gleamed with barely contained tears. The chain slipped out of her trembling hands, falling back into the snow with a muffled clink.

“Hey, Colin, come here,” Bernie called to the black-haired boy, who was staring uncomfortably at the tops of his sneakers. As the boy hesitantly approached, the ticket vendor leaned over the counter to whisper in his ear. “You gotta be real strong for your mom now,” Bernie told the child frankly. “I know you can do it, Colin. Can see it in ya, I can. You’ll grow up to do great things. Work hard, and you’ll be a great man – much greater than your old man!”

Biting his lip nervously, the boy glanced back at his mother, who still had her head bowed towards the ground, then nodded slowly. “I understand, sir,” he said, blue eyes starting to shine with that familiar determination.

Bernie watched approvingly as Colin took his mother’s hand and started leading her back up the path. The Luxray watched them go as well, sharp red eyes glittering in some unreadable emotion. Uttering a strange half-snort, half-sigh, the Pokémon finally turned its gaze back towards the train tracks. Stretching onto its belly, it placed its head atop its large paws and began to wait for the next train.

“I still think he’s here for my hotdogs,” the hotdog seller piped up. To prove his point, he slathered a large amount of ketchup and mayonnaise onto one of his wares, then slapped the whole mess on top of a napkin. “Here, boy, a tasty treat,” he cooed, gesturing exaggeratedly as he placed the napkin on the ground.

Rolling its eyes, the Luxray twisted about to lie on its side. As the morning lengthened into afternoon and evening, however, its empty belly began to rumble. Long after the hotdog vendor had left for the day, the hungry Pokémon reluctantly slunk over. Batting the hotdog back towards its designated spot, it continued its diligent vigil into the night.

~*~*~*~*~

Four…

A fierce gust of snow swept inside as the door swung open, causing the bartender to look up from the glasses he was polishing. “Happy holidays, Mr. Sayers!” he called, setting down his cloth.

The man at the door, a lanky fellow with an unshaven face, messy black hair, and a powder blue scarf around his neck, nodded tiredly. He tromped inside in heavy rubber boots, the Luxray at his side following more inconspicuously on its padded feet. Both tracked half-melted clumps of snow across the floor as they entered, mingled amongst a mess of damp footprints.

“The usual, please,” Mr. Sayers said as he hung his flimsy winter jacket on a nearby rack. Trotting towards the bar, Luxray leapt nonchalantly onto a seat, placing its paws on the counter as it shook out its wet coat. His human companion joined it moments later, unraveling the blue scarf from around his neck.

“That’s a nice new scarf you’ve got there, Mr. Sayers,” the bartender commented conversationally.

“A Christmas present from my son, Colin,” Mr. Sayers said proudly, carefully folding said item and placing it to the side. “He got a part-time job and everything to pay for it.”

“They grow up so fast,” the bartender replied with an indulgent smile, sliding a mug of beer in front of Mr. Sayers and a bowl of warm milk towards the Luxray.

“Going to be starting his Pokémon journey next year, Colin is. Bella isn’t gung ho about it, but me and Colin convinced her. He’s so excited for when he turns ten.”

“That so?”

As the evening stretched on, the bar remained empty except for the two men and the Luxray. The small room was nearly noiseless as well, save for the clink of the glasses the bartender was polishing, the lapping of the Luxray’s tongue against the milk, and the muted howl of the wind outside.

“Business’s a bit slow lately, huh?” Mr. Sayers said at last, trying to break the silence.

The bartender shrugged. “Times have been tough for everyone. Especially now, with the winter storms and all. Only customers we get are the real crazy trainers coming up for the Gym.” The bartender gave a guttural laugh as he turned back to his glasses. “The smart trainers know better than to stick around this time of year. No offense, Mr. Sayers,” he tacked on hastily. “Everyone knows you were a real deal battling champ.”

“Back in the day,” Mr. Sayers said wistfully. “I thought I could do anything back then.” He took another swig of beer and sighed. “Pokémon battling was all I was ever good at, you know.” As his knuckles whitened over the handle of his mug, his tone took an unguardedly bitter turn. “But then, Pokémon training’s just for kids. When you grow up, you can’t have a family and still be a trainer, not when you need to be travelling all over catching new Pokémon, going to competitions…”

“Lux,” the Luxray growled softly, nudging the man with its milk-stained nose. Trailing off with a strained smile, the man draped an arm around his Pokémon’s neck.

“Maybe you could try the contests at the Battle Frontier,” the bartender suggested, sympathetically sliding the man another mug of beer. “I hear the top rankers get pretty good payouts.”

Mr. Sayers drained his second drink, then chuckled mirthlessly. “I would if I could pay their ridiculous entrance fees. I can’t gamble away a month’s pay from the office on something like that, not when I’ve got to worry about Bella and Colin…”

As the Luxray nudged his arm again, the man realized his callused hands were shaking. “I’ve got to go,” he said tersely, snatching up the blue scarf and rising to his feet. “Colin’s coming back from his friend’s place at eight, and I’m supposed to pick him up at the train station.”

As the man staggered towards the door, tying the scarf clumsily around his neck, the Luxray snatched his forgotten coat off the rack. “Thanks, buddy,” Mr. Sayers mumbled as the Pokémon shoved the coat in his direction. As he pulled the door open with a heavy creak, another whirlwind of snow hurtled in, violently knocking several glasses onto their sides.

“Careful on your way back!” the bartender called, hastily righting the glasses. “The storm tonight’s supposed to be pretty rough.”

As the man and Luxray slogged towards the train station, the wind buffeted them brutally from side to side, howling viciously as it tore at their faces. Biting sheets of hail rushed down from the pitch-black sky, adding to the unrelenting onslaught. Overwhelmed by the violent snowstorm, the man found his boots sliding uncontrollably across the ice. Paws also scrambling for purchase on the frozen ground, Luxray shoved its shoulder under the human’s windmilling arms. For a moment, the two of them stood crouched in the middle of the maelstrom, bodies heaving and braced against the wind.

The man’s hands, chilled and cracked, were trembling again as he clutched at the Pokémon’s shoulder. “I’m not sure anymore, buddy,” he whispered into the Luxray’s thick fur. “I know I’ve got Bella and Colin, but the longer I’ve been stuck here...never getting another shot…never knowing what we could’ve been…sometimes I…I just feel so…”

Though it made a chastising noise in the back of its throat, the Luxray leaned back into the man’s hold.

“Sorry,” Mr. Sayers muttered at last. Still clinging onto the Pokémon’s shoulder, he rose shakily to his feet. “Sorry,” he repeated, swiping at his eyes.

“Lux,” the Luxray replied, shaking its large head.

They walked the rest of the way to the station in silence, and a familiar voice rang out as they stepped under the roof by the ticket counter. “Mr. Sayers, good timing!” called the red-haired ticket vendor, waving at the older man. “Some lady called the station earlier, left a number for ya!”

“Some lady, Bernie?” Mr. Sayers echoed confusedly. Accepting a slip of paper from the ticket vendor, he retreated to a nearby payphone, the Luxray trailing closely behind. “Hello?” he said once he’d dialed the number.

“Matty!” came a female voice at the other end, effusively warm and slightly breathless. “Thank goodness! I couldn’t remember your home phone for the life of me, and the only numbers I could find were for the Snowpoint Police or the train station, and I didn’t want anyone to think you were some kind of criminal if I called the police, so…”

“Gladys, is that you?” Mr. Sayers said with an incredulous laugh, cutting her off in mid-sentence. Despite his previously melancholic mood, a smile crept over his worn face. “What are you babbling about now?”

The voice on the other end swelled with mock indignation. “Is that how you treat an old friend?” the woman demanded. “Matty, I’m in Hoenn now! I’ve got so much to tell you. Heck, I don’t even know where to begin! But do I have the best belated Christmas present for you ever!”

“Hoenn?” Matty Sayers echoed. As the conversation raced on, he nodded vigorously and tried to speak a few more times, but, in each case, was quickly cut off by a burst of enthusiastic chatter from the other end. Still standing by his side, the Luxray swished its tail restlessly back and forth.

“Gladys, that’s amazing; congratulations!” the man managed to interject at last. As he listened to several minutes more of conversation, his eyes began to widen. “What?” he spluttered, grip tightening around the phone. “You can’t be serious! Yes, I remember the promise from back then. Yes, yes, backwards and forwards and all that, but you can’t seriously…” He paused, face suddenly blanching. “I need to be in Hoenn by tomorrow?” he said, voice falling into a disbelieving whisper. “Gladys, you’re crazy! Tomorrow’s New Year’s; I can’t just take off like that…”

Noticing the ticket vendor’s head craned curiously over the counter, the Luxray gave a warning growl. The vendor turned away in a huff, studiously pretending not to eavesdrop further.

“It really is the chance of a lifetime,” Matty Sayers said almost inaudibly. “I could really use a chance like that, Gladys. No, it’s exactly what I need, but…”

His gaze flitted towards the Luxray, who was staring intently up at him with its bright red eyes.

“I need to think about it,” he said finally. “It’s a big decision, Gladys. I’ll let you know soon as I can.”

Placing the payphone back on its hook, the man stared numbly at the number written on the slip in his open palm. “It’s crazy,” he told himself dazedly. His fingers twitched together, crumpling the paper into a loose wad. Despite his words, his gaze wandered towards the tracks in front of the station. “If I leave right now, I can be on the last ferry to the Battle Frontier, catch a plane to Hoenn from there,” he muttered, mind rocketing ahead at a feverish pace.

Glancing back towards the Luxray, Matty found himself nodding. His previously stooped posture straightened, his dark brown eyes shining with a renewed resolution that the Pokémon had not seen in many years. “I’m going to Hoenn,” he told the Luxray, a familiar confidence surging through his voice. Tugging the blue scarf more firmly around his neck, he moved towards the outer platform, where the snow-strewn wind swiftly beat against his body.

Despite its trainer’s seemingly miraculous transformation, the Luxray shook its head worriedly. Grabbing a mouthful of the man’s sleeve between its teeth, it pulled him back.

“Hey, cut it out!” Matty said, tugging impatiently. “There’s no time now! This could change everything!”

Still clutching at the sleeve, the Luxray uneasily shook its head once more.

The low wail of a train horn swept forward on the wind.

Let go, Luke!”

With a final yank, the threadbare fabric tore in two. The Luxray staggered back with a ragged piece of cloth hanging from its mouth, leaving the man with a gaping hole in his jacket arm. Tossing the ruined cloth to the ground, where it was quickly blown away, the Luxray leapt in front of its trainer. It shoved against the man’s legs, whining desperately.

“Last station, Snowpoint City!” the conductor called as the train pulled in.

Crouching down, Matty put his arms around the Luxray’s back. “It’s okay, Luke,” he whispered into the Pokémon’s ear. “Everything’s gonna be okay.” He motioned to the front of the ticket booth. “Wait right there for Colin, alright?” he asked the Luxray as the train doors opened. “I don’t want him to walk back home by himself.”

“Lux!” the Luxray protested, face still pressed against the man’s legs.

“Just wait for me, buddy,” Matty said. “I promise I’ll come right back here, okay? I backwards forwards up and down last to first promise you.”

With a reluctant whimper, the Luxray finally pulled away. Tightening his arms around the Pokémon in a grateful bear hug, the man rose to his feet. The Luxray anxiously watched him board the train, unable to tear its gaze away even as the train doors slid shut and the train sped away.

Then, wind thrashing against his fur, it settled down to wait.

*

The gale blustering through the harbor was even more viscous than back in the town. As he stepped down from the train platform, Matty Sayers hugged his overly thin winter coat against his body. Through the escalating tempest, he could glimpse a line of waves beating against the dark horizon. To his right, the light by the ferry station twinkled at the end of the docks.

Praying that the water wouldn’t be too rough for travel, Matty staggered towards the ferry, holding one arm over his face to shield it from snow. With a vehement snarl, the wind sent the man stumbling to the side. The powder blue scarf around his neck flailed about in the growing squall, coming progressively undone as it whipped through the air.

Another violent blast barreled past. Matty cursed as the scarf ripped away, streaming into the storm. Groping desperately about for the lost item, he fought his way into the wind. His steps through the calf-deep snow were too halting and awkward to make much headway.

Gritting his teeth, Matty clumsily lunged into the darkness. Colin will hate me if I lose his scarf, he told himself fiercely.

It was his last thought before he hit the icy water.

~*~*~*~

Three…

“Now, Luke! Thunder Fang!”

“Walrein, dodge and use Ice Beam!”

Sparks of electricity coalescing between its open jaws, the young Luxray, Luke, launched itself at its opponent, a hulking pinniped brandishing a menacing set of ivory tusks. Despite its bulk, the Walrein swerved to the side with a smack of its fan-shaped tail, then shot a ball of blinding blue light back at the other Pokémon. Luke sprung to the side, narrowing avoiding the chilly blast.

“A surprising display of agility by Prim’s Walrein!” the announcer cried as the large-screen TV at the head of the arena lit up, replaying the last few seconds of the match in slow motion. “Despite their type advantage, Matty Sayers and his Luxray may have their work cut out for them!”

Growling, the Luxray circled back, warily studying the other Pokémon.

“Luke, try a long-range Wild Bolt attack!” the Luxray’s trainer cried from the sidelines. He was a tall, long-limbed teen with an unkempt mop of unruly black hair, his stance strong and commands confident.

On the other side of the arena, his opponent, a girl wearing a purple dress, smugly crossed her skinny arms. “That’s not gonna work!” she taunted, her ash-blonde bob whipping out as she swung her head to the side. “Walrein, shield yourself!” she directed, drawing a circle in the air with a whirl of her index finger.

With a grunt, the massive Ice Pokémon raised its heavy head. Spinning about on its sizable belly, it shot a tall ring of ice around its body. Luke’s electric attack slammed against the icy barrier, fizzling away down its slick, poorly-conductive length. Static still crackling through its coat, the Luxray stepped back.

“Now cover the arena with Ice Beam, Walrein!” the girl commanded, keen grey eyes gleaming in anticipation of victory. “No one can keep up with you on the ice!”

As the Walrein swiftly obeyed, the boy shook his head and grinned. “Think again!” he retorted. “Luke, you can do it! Jump up and use another Wild Charge!”

Red eyes narrowing in concentration, Luke leapt into the air with a powerful shove from its hind legs. Twisting adroitly about, it aimed an airborne electric blast directly at its opponent’s head.

The Walrein had nowhere near enough time to react.

“And Sayers’s Luxray takes out Prim’s Walrein with an electrifying Wild Charge!” the announcer cried as the sizzled walrus Pokémon slumped unconsciously to the floor. “Matty Sayers has just won the 88th Sinnoh Winter Championships!”

Cheers roared up from the packed bleachers, resounding throughout the entire stadium. Face aglow, the victorious trainer rushed into the middle of arena and flung his arms around his Luxray’s neck. “We did it, Luke!” he cried half-hysterically, voice muffled by the Pokémon’s thick fur. “We really did it!”

“Lux!” Luke agreed proudly, snuggling its nose against its trainer’s neck. A cough from behind interrupted them in mid-embrace.

“Hey, Matty, congrats,” the trainer with the Walrein said, sheepishly putting a hand behind her head. “Guess I shouldn’t have gotten too cocky…”

She made a strangled “oomph!” noise as the boy crushed her into an exuberant bear hug. “That was so close!” he proclaimed, swinging her around in a circle. “You were amazing, Gladys!”

“Yeah, well, I guess as rivals go, you’re not that bad,” the girl, Gladys, laughed as Matty finally set her back onto her feet. “Though the real champion here is Luke, as always,” she added, scratching the Luxray affectionately on the head. With a rumbling purr, the large Electric Pokémon leaned against her fingers.

As reporters began to crowd into the arena, all talking excitedly, someone in the back of the stands suddenly caught Matty’s eye. “Bella!” he yelled elatedly, vaulting into the bleachers and scrambling through the surging throng of people. “Bella, over here!” he shouted, waving wildly.

“That the girlfriend?” Gladys asked Luke, who still standing next to her. Craning her neck forward to get a better look, she pursed her lips together and frowned. “I guess she’s pretty.”

The Luxray snorted through its nostrils.

“Did you see it, Bella?” Matty cried, grabbing the hands of a slender brunette in a short red skirt and twirling her giddily about. “I’m the tournament champion! This is the best Christmas present ever!”

“Matty,” the girl said with a wavering smile, large blue eyes filling with tears. With a trembling hand, she tucked a glossy curl of chestnut brown hair behind one ear. “Matty, I’m pregnant.”

The smile on the boy’s face vanished as the girl buried her face in the front of his jacket, shuddering with sobs. “Bella, it’s okay, it’s okay,” he tried to reassure her, hugging her tightly towards him. “Don’t cry, Bella. It’ll be okay.”

“What are we going to do?” the girl whispered.

“My grandma had a house in Snowpoint,” Matty told her, gently stroking her hair over and over again. “We’ll get married and live there together. Everything will be okay, I swear.”

Still clinging to his jacket, the girl shook her head. “What about your training career?” she protested. “You’re just getting started, Matty! You’ll have to travel, go to competitions…”

“I’ll get a job as a Gym Leader; they don’t have to move around. One day, I’ll join the Elite Four, and we can move to the League Village,” the boy answered confidently. “And if that doesn’t work, we’ll think of something. It’ll be alright, Bella. I’ll never leave you behind.”

~*~*~

Two…

Rock scratched against metal in a dull, steady rhythm within the small dark space. Beads of sweat rolling down his forehead, the young boy tightened his blistered, grimy fingers around his tools. Recrossing his legs over the dirt ground, he hunched forward and resumed scraping.

The tarp at the front of the makeshift shelter shifted, letting in a frigid draft of wind. Shaking snow from its coat, an adolescent Luxio ducked inside. Still shivering, it dropped a bundle of twigs from its mouth.

“Thanks, Luke,” the boy managed through chattering teeth. Gathering the magnesium shavings in his palms, he brushed them carefully on top of the twigs. The Luxio swiftly raised one paw, letting a spark arch from its extended claws onto the pile. Tongues of flames sprung to life in a flare of light.

The boy and Luxio huddled silently around the small fire, watching flickering shadows dance across the ground. For several minutes more, the only sound was the crackle of the hungry flames.

“I don’t think we’re gonna make it home in time for Christmas,” the boy said at last, still staring at the ground.

The Luxio blew out a long snort of air that ruffled through the boy’s jet-black hair. When the boy still didn’t look up, the Pokémon swatted its star-shaped tailed roughly against his back, knocking him forward with a start.

“Ouch, Luke, what are you doing?!” the boy cried, swerving about to glare. “I could’ve fallen into the fire!”

Snorting again, Luke batted him across the shoulder with one of its paws. With an indignant yelp, the boy grabbed a fistful of the Luxio’s black mane and wrestled the Pokémon to the ground. After a brief, but heated, tussle, the two of them found themselves with their backs against the dirt, gasping and laughing.

“We’ll get back by New Year’s, then,” the boy grinned, spirits renewed. “If you don’t keep causing trouble, that is!” he added teasingly, pulling the Luxio into a headlock.

“Lux!” Luke taunted right back, smacking its trainer across the arm with its tail. The lightened mood, however, was shattered by an ear-splitting scream. Eyes widening, the boy leapt to his feet and ran outside, the Luxio not far behind.

As they raced to the top of a nearby hill, the screams grew louder. Looking down, the boy quickly pinpointed their source: a huddled figure half-hidden in the snow, scrambling frantically away from a furious Ursaring.

“Wild Charge, Luke!” the boy shouted, sliding down the hill. Without hesitation, the Luxio dashed down the incline ahead of him, hurtling forth twin bolts of lightning. The electricity streaked through the air and slammed into the Ursaring’s side.

Roaring, the towering bear Pokémon swerved towards them with its claws raised. Fur bristling along its massive back, it charged headlong towards the boy and his Pokémon.

“Ice Beam, Spheal!” came a girl’s voice.

A sudden blast of shimmering blue light caught the Ursaring across the shoulders, causing it to falter in mid-run.

“Now’s your chance, Luke! Thunder Fang!” the boy shouted before the beefy bear Pokémon could recover.

Springing forward, the Luxio clamped its jaws around Ursaring’s burly forearm, sending streams of electricity racing across the other Pokémon’s body. With a heavy groan, the Ursaring fell face-first into a snowbank, the force of its impact shaking clumps of snow from the nearby pines. Panting, the Luxio jumped back.

“You okay, boy?”

Luke turned as its trainer ran up, kicking snow in all directions. Shaking its head, the Luxio quickly shoved the boy backwards, indicating the unconscious Ursaring with a jab of its tail.

“Arceus above!” exclaimed another voice. Clutching a chubby Spheal in her arms, a short breathless girl in a puffy purple coat staggered towards them, eyes wild. “That Ursaring almost took off my head!” she cried. An almost maniacal grin spread across her flushed, round-cheeked face. “That was awesome!”

“Awesome? Ursaring usually only attack if you bother them,” the boy said, a disapproving frown creasing his forehead. “Did you bug one of its cubs or something?”

“Huh?!” the girl squawked indignantly. “I was just trying to catch some Snorunt!” Dropping her Spheal onto the ground and placing her mittened hands on her hips, she glared at the boy with her lips pursed. “I’m not a moron newbie trainer, you know!” she proclaimed defensively. “I’m going to be the number one Ice Pokémon master in the world someday!”

The boy snorted at this. “Then you’ve got a long way to go,” he retorted. “You can’t even handle one wild Pokémon!”

“I accidentally dropped my PokéBalls in the snow and had to find them! Who are you to tell me off, anyway?!”

“Matty Sayers, that’s who! I’m going to be the greatest trainer in all of Sinnoh!”

Lux!” Fed up at last with the escalating bickering, Luke jumped between the two angry trainers, sending sparks arching towards both of them. As both children fell yelping into the snow, the Luxio swung its head towards the fallen Ursaring, which was beginning to groan.

Nodding to each other in their first perfect agreement, the boy and girl tiptoed towards the hill, their Pokémon trailing closely behind them.

*

Several days of slogging through the snow together apparently did wonders for building camaraderie (as did Luke’s reprimanding shocks whenever one party became a little too critical). After exchanging a variety of stories about their training adventures and tournament aspirations, the two young trainers were soon enthusiastically talking together as if they’d been lifelong friends.

“And then I’ll take out the Champion’s last Pokémon with my super-mega-powered Glaile, and it will be totally awesome!” the girl raved, each of her words bursting out as white puffs in the frozen air. “Then I’ll retire from the battle circuit and run an Ice Pokémon Gym or something. No, wait, even better!” Her grey eyes practically glowed with excitement. “I’ll be an Ice Pokémon Master for the Elite Four!”

The boy, Matty, laughed in her face. “There’s no Ice trainer in the Sinnoh Elite Four!”

“Then I’ll be the first!” the girl replied readily. “Or maybe I’ll go to Kanto or Hoenn! Wherever there’s an opening!”

Following his Luxio down a snowbank, Matty considered this. “It would be pretty cool to be in the Elite Four,” he admitted. A mischievous twinkle appeared in his dark brown eyes. “Bet I’ll get in the Elite Four before you!”

“Ha, fat chance! I’ll eat my Spheal if that happens!”

I’ll eat your Spheal if it doesn’t!”

The Luxio sighed as the rotund little Pokémon bobbing behind them shot it a worried look. With a snort, it zapped another burst of electricity at the two arguing trainers, stopping just short of their feet. The group trod on for several more minutes in relative silence, the terrain growing increasingly steep beneath them. Above, the sun was sinking slowly in the sky, causing the shadows of the surrounding pine trees to stretch longer and longer across the snow.

“The only thing about being in the Elite Four,” the girl said at last, her normally spirited voice uncharacteristically sullen, “is that everyone would know my real name, and, well…” Her lips pursed into a petulant pout. “I kinda have the lamest name ever,” she mumbled embarrassedly. “It makes me sound like some wussy old lady.”

“What is it?” Matty asked, curiosity piqued. “I won’t tell anyone.”

“Promise?”

“Backwards forwards up and down last to first promise you.” At the girl’s bewildered look, he cupped a hand over her ear. “That’s the strongest kind of promise in the world,” he informed her in a somber whisper. “A hundred times stronger than a pinky promise.”

With a sigh, the girl furrowed her brow as she finally made up her mind. “Gladys Prim,” she muttered very quickly, dropping her gaze to the tops of her fuzzy boots. “It sounds dumb, I know,” she said in a tiny voice.

The silence stretched on as they kept walking, feet and paws crunching against the half-frozen snow. Noticing that the girl’s face was still downcast, Luke nudged its trainer in the leg. As the boy glanced down, the Luxio inclined its head towards their other human companion, making a meaningful growling noise.

Taking the hint, Matty cleared his throat. “What’s wrong with Gladys?” he asked, folding his arms behind his head as he continued to walk. “It’s cool. Different. Kinda…pretty, I guess.”

Slowly, the girl turned towards him, grey eyes growing unexpectedly soft. “You’re…just saying that, aren’t you?” she said after a moment’s pause, forcing a dismissive laugh.

“Yeah, you got me.” The boy stuck his tongue out. “You should change it to something cooler. Like ‘Glacier’ or ‘Glacia’ or something – at least that’s ice-related.”

He yelped loudly as the girl tackled him to the ground. The two of them fell all the way down the hill, kicking, yelling, and throwing snow in all directions. With a roll of its red eyes, Luke leapt agilely after them. Gladys was in the process of shoving snow down Matty’s jacket when the Luxio skidded to a stop at the base on the incline, the Spheal bouncing down the slope several feet behind.

“Lux!” Luke barked, interrupting the two arguing trainers. Whipping its tail out like a flag, the Luxio suddenly raised its head into the air. Its ears cocked forward as its red eyes narrowed, then turned a gleaming gold. Without further warning, the Pokémon took off across the snow-strewn field, which was rapidly falling into darkness as evening approached.

“Luke, wait up!” Matty yelled after his Pokémon. Starting forward, he tripped over his own feet and plunged face-first into a snowbank. Hastily wiping his now wet face, he was surprised to see a mittened hand extended towards him. Hesitantly, he took it, allowing Gladys to unceremoniously yank him onto his feet.

“Thanks,” he mumbled, brushing snow off his jacket.

As the two trainers hiked the rest of the way across the field, Gladys gently punched Matty in the arm. “Hey, you know,” she said grudgingly, “you’re not that bad. When I get into the Elite Four, maybe I’ll put in a word for you or something. So we can train together and stuff.”

I’ll get in the Elite Four first and put in a word for you,” Matty replied with a cocky grin.

“Well, whoever gets in first needs to make sure the other person gets in, too, okay? So it’s fair and everything.” Gladys shot him a look so serious that Matty immediately stopped laughing. “Promise,” she commanded, extending her hand once more. “A back to front upside down promise or whatever. The one that’s a hundred times better than a pinky promise.”

“Backwards forwards up and down last to first promise you,” Matty corrected, slapping his own hand against hers. The two young trainers shook solemnly.

A loud bark rang through the frigid air. Looking up, the children caught a glimpse of Luke poised at the top of the hill, its lone form silhouetted against the last traces of daylight. Immediately after the Luxio’s bark, a long, well-welcomed wail echoed through the evening sky.

Scrambling to his Pokémon’s side, Gladys not far behind, Matty let out a whoop of delight. “Yes!” he yelled, pumping a fist into the air. “Good job, Luke! You got us back, boy!”

The familiar wail sounded again. Matty enveloped his Luxio in a hug as the two of them stared at the long-awaited sight below. Winding across a meandering set of metal tracks slashed across the snow, a train blew billowing clouds of steam into the sky. It was heading for a small white building shining like a beacon on the horizon.

“Last station, Snowpoint City,” hummed a voice in the distance.

Laughing, the boy and Pokémon raced down the hill.

~*~

One…

The target was in sight.

Materializing out of the shadows, a pair of golden-yellow eyes fixed themselves on the small paper bag sitting atop the work bench. The bag’s owner, a short slight boy standing on a nearby stool, was too busy dragging his paint roller against the wall to notice. The golden eyes narrowed in anticipation of the impending prize. In a lightning-fast streak of blue, their owner darted forward, snatching up the bag with its teeth and retreating back into the bushes.

“Huh?” Turning around at the sudden rustle, the boy tripped off his stool. He hit the ground rear-first, splattering white paint in all directions.

“Hey, kid!” barked another man, who was painting an adjacent section of the building several meters away. “You’re getting paid to paint the station, not to goof off!"

“Something just stole my lunch!” the boy protested, swiping at the paint in his messy black hair. Tracking white footprints across the ground, he made his way to the bushes where the thief had disappeared. “I think it went in there,” he said, sticking his hand underneath and groping blindly about. A burst of static shot forward, giving him a nasty shock. “Ow! Yep, it’s definitely in there!”

Several more of the workers crowded around behind him, curious to see what was going on. Nursing his shocked fingers, the boy lifted up a clump of branches with his other hand, revealing a scrawny cat-like creature with mangy blue fur. Hissing fiercely, it flattened its body against the ground, still clutching the paper bag between its teeth. A flickering yellow radiance sprang up around its fur, arching forward and shocking the surrounding humans. The creature took off without a moment’s delay, flying across the street and into a grove of pine trees.

“What was that?” the boy asked, wincing as a bit of residual static crackled through his clothes.

“Looked like a Shinx,” one of the other workers supplied. “Don’t get many of those in Snowpoint, though.”

“Might’ve been abandoned by one of the trainers who came for the Gym,” another suggested. “Could be why it doesn’t like people very much.”

The boy was silent, watching the stand of pines the Pokémon had disappeared into.

*

The Shinx was snoozing later that afternoon when it first heard the footsteps approach. Flipping onto all fours, it bared its teeth, static already coursing through its disheveled fur.

“Hey, it’s okay, it’s okay!” A paint-stained hand dropped something into the bushes, then hastily pulled back out. The Shinx stared at the unexpected offering, a small sausage, through narrowed eyes. Sniffing suspiciously, it ventured forward to get a closer look, then quickly scrambled back to its original spot when the hand came in again.

“Here’s another one, but that’s all I got.” A second sausage plopped in beside the first, rolling towards the Shinx’s paws. Growling, the Pokémon backed deeper into the bushes.

“You should eat it coz you’re really skinny,” the voice outside said matter-of-factly. “I’ll bring you some more tomorrow.”

The Shinx listened warily as the footsteps retreated through the clearing, crunching against the snow. Only when they had completely faded away did the Pokémon stalk forward and drag the meat towards itself.

*

“You know, I realized I still don’t know your name.”

From its position in front of the bush, where it was lapping milk out of an open Tupperware container, the Shinx swished its tail dismissively. The boy, who was lying on his stomach a little ways away, propped himself up on his elbows. “You can’t tell me, of course,” he said, cocking his head. “Maybe I should make one up. How about Sparky? Or Flash?”

Rolling its eyes, the Shinx made a disdainful rumbling noise in the back of its throat.

“Yeah, I guess those are kinda dumb.” The boy stared aimlessly at the cloudless sky, which had brightened into a shade similar to that of the Shinx’s fur. “How about Luke?” he asked finally, turning back to the Pokémon. “I think Luke’s a cool name.”

Ignoring the boy, the Shinx kept licking at the milk.

“Okay, we’ll try that for now,” the boy said with a grin of satisfaction. “Still wish I knew your real name though. The one your old trainer gave you.”

At these words, the Shinx’s body tensed. Glaring furiously through its bright yellow eyes, it backed stiffly away from the milk container.

“Hey, calm down!” the boy cried, sitting up. “I didn’t mean to offend you or anything! I don’t care about your old trainer. I’m sure he was a jerk if he abandoned you!” He reached an imploring hand towards the bristling Shinx. A growl rising in the back of its throat, the small Pokémon lunged forward and bit him on the finger.

“Ow!” Yanking back his hand, the boy gazed at the blood oozing through his newly-acquired teeth-marks, then back at the now hissing Shinx.

“My name’s Matty,” he said at last. He held out his hand towards the Pokémon again.

With an angry yip, the Shinx disappeared into the bushes.

*

The last few months had grown colder than ever. Breath now issuing up in white clouds, Matty entered the clearing at a leisurely pace, steps slowed by the thick layer of newly-fallen snow around his feet. “Luke!” he called out, taking a seat on a fallen log. “I’ve got your favorite today!”

A streak of blue shot up from underneath the snow in an instant. Shedding snowflakes in all directions as it shook out its coat, the Shinx assumed its spot beside the boy. Producing a still-warm carton from under his jacket, Matty messily tore its contents, a hotdog stacked with condiments, in half. Licking ketchup and mayonnaise off his bare hand, he handed one half to the Shinx, who dug in hungrily, and started on the second half himself.

The two of them sat on the log for a while after they finished their food. Drawn towards the warmth, the Shinx comfortably draped its body against the human’s side. As it was about to doze off, however, the boy began to speak.

“Hey, Luke,” Matty said softly, drawing circles in the snow with the toe of his boot. “There’s something I want to tell you.”

“Shinx,” the Pokémon muttered drowsily.

“I’ve finally saved enough money to go on my Pokémon journey,” the boy said. “That’s always been my dream, you know. To be the best Pokémon master there ever was.” He took a deep breath. “So I’m leaving tomorrow, on New Year’s Eve. It’s gonna be a new beginning for me.”

As the Shinx finally looked at him, it saw that the boy’s dark brown eyes were shining with a strong, almost overwhelmingly ardent, determination as he stared at the distant hills. “Will you come with me, Luke?” he asked, lowering his steady gaze towards the Shinx’s. “Be my first Pokemon! We’ll be the best team ever!”

Golden eyes widening, the Shinx found itself shrinking away.

“I swear I’ll never abandon you like your old trainer,” the boy said sincerely, extending a hand towards his companion. “No matter what, I’ll never, ever, ever leave you behind. We’ll always be together. Backwards forwards up and down last to first promise you.” His voice grew quiet. “That’s the strongest kind of promise in the whole wide world, you know. Coz it’s a promise that lasts forever.”

When the Shinx did not budge, the boy slowly lowered his hand. “I’ll wait for you to decide,” he said. “I’ll wait in front of the train station before I leave, promise.”

Still not moving, the Shinx silently watched him go.

*
Snow had been drifting down since dusk – fine, glimmering flakes like so many falling stars tumbling out of the night sky. Shimmering in the moonlight, they came to rest on rooftops and unpaved streets, drawing a soft white veil over the small town. Swaddled in complete darkness, save for the occasional lonely streetlamp, Snowpoint City slumbered peacefully on into another new year.

Plodding quietly along the path, the Shinx gazed up into the dark sky. Snowflakes fell against its upturned face, melting instantly against its wet nose and cheeks. Gazing up through narrowed eyes, it was hard to tell how many of the white pinpoints in the sky were actually snowflakes and how many were stars, as both were strewn in countless numbers across the heavens above.

It was well past midnight, and the boy had said he would leave the previous day. There was no chance of him still being in town. No chance at all.

Despite this conviction, however, the Shinx still found itself padding slowly towards the train station.

Like the rest of the town, the small building was mostly bathed in darkness. A single light hung suspended from a roof overhang, flickering erratically as it swayed in the wind. The Shinx scanned the dimly-lit area, flinching as more snow whipped into its golden eyes. Cautiously, it stepped onto the platform, snow crunching softly underfoot.

“Luke?”

Startled, the Shinx darted back into the shadows. Shedding snow in all directions, a small figure rose from where it’d been hunched against the base of the building. Shivering, the boy peered dazedly about into the darkness. Seeing nothing, he slowly sank back into the snow. As the wind picked up, he curled himself into a tight ball against the station wall, still shivering.

Faraway, a pinpoint of light that was neither a star nor a snowflake began to grow, its approach accompanied by the low wail of a horn. The noise grew steadily louder, the light steadily brighter. Sheets of snow were whisked skyward as the train arrived in a blast of air, wheels rocking against the tracks and headlights glaring.

Still huddled at the foot of the station, the boy watched the train doors open amidst a billowing mist of steam. Turning his gaze to the deserted platform, he drew his jacket closer around his shaking body.

“Last station, Snowpoint City!” the conductor announced from aboard the train. “Last station on the Sinnoh North Line Inbound!”

Hugging his arms around his knees, the boy closed his eyes.

A shrill yip, however, forced him to open them again. Framed by the lights of the train’s interior, the Shinx had bounded up into an open compartment. It paused on the threshold as the doors were about to close, gazing soundlessly out towards the boy.

As he met the Pokémon’s bright golden eyes, the boy’s wind-chapped lips curved into a smile. Stumbling a bit as he tried to regain control of his half-frozen limbs, he scrambled to the edge of the platform, stepping inside just as the doors clicked shut.

“First station on the North Line Outbound!” the conductor shouted as the train reversed direction, picking up speed as it raced down the tracks. “First station, Snowpoint City!”

***
Note: If you don’t remember much from Ruby/Sapphire like me (I had to look it up , Glacia is an Ice Trainer from the Hoenn Elite Four.

Spoiler:
aka Gladys


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  #19    
Old December 31st, 2010 (11:30 PM).
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Oh oh, better hurry guys! There's about 3 hours left. And thanks for all who joined. ^^;
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Old December 31st, 2010 (11:33 PM).
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Baw. Only three hours? /hustles to try to finish her fanfic. Prolly won't finish it in time, woe. v_v
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  #21    
Old January 1st, 2011 (06:45 PM).
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Unfortunately, the time has passed. Sorry for those who haven't had the chance to join. There's always a next time! Thanks to those who joined. ^^;
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  #22    
Old January 6th, 2011 (07:23 PM).
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Bay Alexison
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Hm, even though I didn't make it in time to enter (lol, New Years Eve stuff really got out of hand for me), how is the judging going? ;
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  #23    
Old January 6th, 2011 (08:48 PM).
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Omfg Bay Alexison. I find this thread up at the top thinking the judging has been done. I waste a precious minute of my life, which the past week has been spent hoping and praying on this all you posted was a message checking how the judging was going! ;_;

Suspense kills, but what you did was... cruel >__>
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Old January 6th, 2011 (08:54 PM).
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'Twas a terrible thing you just did to my hope, you guys. You tore it in half and mutilated each side, shredding all of it until the poor emotion was not even recognizable. Then you set the remains aflame and ran over the burning pile with a steamroller.

How could you.
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  #25    
Old January 6th, 2011 (11:06 PM).
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Quote originally posted by Bay Alexison:
Hm, even though I didn't make it in time to enter (lol, New Years Eve stuff really got out of hand for me), how is the judging going? ^^;
I just sent my scores in a few hours ago, so the final scores should be up soon.
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