October 13th, 2012 (5:33 PM).
So, this'll be my first story on PC. Never posted a story in forum format before - so hopefully i can refrain from failing miserably.
This is one of my fanfiction pieces i'm most happy about. Enjoy.
WARNING: Contains excessive teenage angst, extravagantly misinformed suicidal-ness, a ****bucket-load of feelings, language, grossly over exaggerated mushy bits, and copious amounts of sadness.
Limbs pinned back and immobile, clasped in the grip of terror as the world collapses around me, folding inwards to the centre and snapping, creaking and breaking in whirlwinds of dirt and splintered shards of trees broken rake over my flesh, but not touching it for I am protected. The glow so soft and blue, yet too solid for all my strength and desire to break free of its holds.
The winds whip up with renewed fury, the sky above and ground below twisting in their very mortal binds. The clouds stretch down, drawn into the vacuum rumbling and churning like a huge black wave, coiling over and over on itself and twisting ominously, no true sound created but an ambient humming shaking my very soul with its horrid power.
This monstrosity, this furious and unnatural thing that bends the laws of physics like an unholy, abyssal Arceus… this is a black hole. A time rip, a tear in space as a whole, a force that breaks and bends all others to its will.
“Vienna!” My fear-laden words, like the worlds around me shredding into pieces, vanish into the void, consumed by the unearthly intruder whose hunger won’t sate.
“Gavin!” She cries back, slender white fingers training and clinging to the ground as it tears up around her, her legs flailing in the vacuum behind her as her grip on the last anchor to the world she has weakens. Her words don’t lose themselves in my head, I can always hear her. The Gardevoir cries as a clump of soil shears across her side with the speed of a bullet slips away into the rift behind her, drawing her in. Pixelated blood fazes in and out of existence for a moment as it zigzags through space like a crimson aurora to the hole, then disappears forever.
“Vienna! Let me go!” My tears too are trapped, encased in my field of immobility holding me at bay. “I can get you!”
“You can’t Gavin!” She shakes her head just slightly against my will, my words reaching her somehow. Tears roll down her cheeks as she looks up, eyes soft with fear and defeat.
“Please…” My words, so soft they wouldn’t reach her in normal circumstances, but she hears me. She always hears me…
“You’ll be stuck too…” She whimpers back, fingers seeming to just loosen momentarily as her will too is devoured by the hole. “I’m sorry… it’s unstable- this is the only way to close the hole…”
“I love you Gavin…” She sniffs, a little smile just rising on her pale lips as she looks into my eyes one last time, one last goodbye. “Be good for me… please…” As if in slow motion, her grip slides from her hold, releasing her body to the winds.
“VIENNA! NO!” She floats backwards and upwards in the draw, seeming to slow everything just for a moment as she lifts. The humming, the roaring and surging, just for a moment, silences as she rises back into the rip, arms spread wide like on a holy crucifix of glass, like a ballet dancer in mid-twirl, hands hanging limply on the end of her arms level and straight, allowing herself to go and float away… allowing it to take her. As graceful in death as in life,
Her lips, so static as the colour seems to seep and bleed from her body like a watercolour angel drowning away into nothing, her lips move, just a bit. And just before it’s all gone, Vienna… the hole... just before it disappears and collapses on itself, like a television screen’s picture shrinking back into the centre and disappearing in just a little flash of light, I hear: “I love you.”
“VIENNA!” My arms tighten as their grip is released from her binds, muscles bursting to life with furious strength. And for all my strength and desperation, I can’t do anything more than just close my arms in front of me, wrapping them around the figure lying on top of me, tears bubbling in the corners of my eyes at her touch as I struggle to cling to her warmth
“Kirr…” A soft croon reaches my ears, the sound of a mother to her child as his life breaks down around him. “Kir-Kirlia…” She eases me, head brushing against my shirt, and by extension my skin beneath. She allows me to hold her tight, mind flooded with pain and sorrow. “Kirlia…” She says as she closes her eyes herself, empathising with me through our bond and snuggling in close. I feel her at the edge of my thoughts, wrapping around my pain like a great blanket and smothering it in warmth, whispering sweet sounds to ease my restless soul, her own mind stroking my mentality and soothing it like one would a scared Riolu, whispers and soft speech.
“Let go of me…” My words are harsh, husky breaths, hot and dry. I brush her attempts aside in favour of my own solitude, sitting upright and tipping her off my stomach onto my covers. “You aren’t a replacement… stop acting like one.” I let slip my feet onto the old and matted carpet and stand, disregarding the feelings of hurt echoing from behind me as I press on towards my window, rain splashing against the pane.
I come to a stop just in front of it, a boom of thunder rolls in from the horizon and a flash of lightening lights up my eyes for an instant. Then I open my mouth, and I sing, low and high, sweet and grating, heavenly and horrid, like a hellish choir.
“See my sorrow on window pane…
Splashing of the mourning rain…
The condensation masks my pain…” I stop short, a low sniff.
“…no love to give, nothing to gain…
When I wake from my dreams, how I cry…
What loss would be had should I die..?
On rags of life I’m but a stain,
Of bird-**** on the window pane…”
I know she doesn’t like it when I sing that, I feel her heart freeze over every time I begin, but it’s true… it’s too true… I’m nothing anymore… Her head presses into the back of my knee and nuzzles it for comfort, hers and mine.
I’d be an idiot not to see it. I’ve changed.
“What?” I snap over my shoulder, throwing the door shut a bit as the person recoils away.
“Are you alright in here?” The door creaks open with the query. “I heard you screaming.”
“I’m peachy.” I grumble as I turn back to the window, isolating my field of view to the hazy morning fog creeping across the garden outside and giving my mother nothing to see but the back of my head. The floor creaks, old and ancient wood hidden underneath a hideous grey carpet spanning my floor. “Don’t come into my room.” The footsteps hurry back, pacing quickly to the doorway again. “Close the door as you leave.” I listen carefully as I stare into the fog on the horizon, each click of the doorway sliding shut triggering a sharp jolt in my mind.
Outside, a patch of flowers rest their heads on the ground, dead. They never died before. Vienna would water them and tend to them with almost as much care as she had shown me. I asked her once what the point in keeping such things was.
“Why do you like roses so much?”
“They’re beautiful.” She would say with a smile, crouching on one knee and leaning over them as if they were whispering to her sweetly. “Whenever somebody looks upon one of my roses and I see them smile, I smile. I know that whenever somebody looks upon my roses they smile, and even when I’m not here, they will see my roses, and smile.” Then she would look up, those lovely ruby eyes of hers twinkling in merriment with her soft smile. “I can add just a little bit of happiness to the world, and even when I’m gone, people will still see my roses, and smile. I want to make people smile, Gavin, I want to make them happy.” She would stand, lift her body so smoothly and fluently with a flick of her leafy hair, and then she would wrap her smooth, slender arms around my back and rest her head on my shoulder, and whisper, crooning into my ear sweetly, playing with a little lock of my hair in her fingers and twisting it around them. And she would ask me so softly: “Do I make you smile Gavin?”
“Not anymore.” I swing away from my window, closing that portal I have to look back into the past. “The past is gone, standing around won’t get it back.”
“Kirl?” Kirlia asks as she back and cocks her head.
“We’re going outside to train.” I decide as I head to the end of my bed where a bag rests, loaded with my gear, and I begin changing into my clothes for the day.
“Kir?” Kirlia asks as she peeks over the windowsill to take a look outside. “Kir-kirlia.” Her face falls.
“Training in the rain is better for you. Makes it tougher.” I sling my backpack over my shoulder and tug on the straps to tighten them, and then I turn back to her. “Come on, let’s go.” Kirlia sighs and follows after me towards the door.
In the hallway, a woman of about fifty or so vacuums, pushing up and down, back and forth; humming softly in a merry tune. She looks up as the sound of my steps touches her ears, then looks down quickly, her merry humming shrinking back into the recesses of her throat.
“Kirlia.” Kirlia adds as she hops past the lady and follows my intent strides down the long hallway. Marianne… I always used to smile as I passed her.
“Marianne.” I would say with a pleasant nod. Marianne would turn around or look up from whatever cleaning or work she was doing, and she would smile that sweet smile of hers.
“Gavin, Vienna. Hello.” She would reply pleasantly. “How do are you today?”
“We are quite well, Marianne-“ Vienna would say with a small courtesy, showing respect to even the housekeeper. That was the kind of Pokémon she was.
“-thank you for asking.” I would finish her sentence with a smile.
I turn into a door on the left to be greeted by the dim light of a stormy morning, bright spots of rain decorating the windows set in the wall above the counter. My dad sits at a table draped with a two-tone checkerboard tablecloth draped under his morning coffee and newspaper. Either he doesn’t notice me enter, or he doesn’t want to talk to me.
Fine either way. I sure as hell don’t want to talk to him.
“Another rainy morning…” He sighs, lowering his newspaper. I can see my mum now at the bench, working a knife on something. Beside her a draw is wide open, padlock on the end hanging loosely open in a rare occasion.
“It always rains when I return from the past.” I comment as I move past him behind. He looks at me briefly with a weary frown, then returns to his paper.
That’s right. Ignore your problems, *******. I think.
Mum raises me a wary glance under her brow as I reach into the drawer beside her, but she puts her eyes back on her own work as she sees all I have is a spoon, nothing dangerous.
As fast as I can, I fill my bowl and get out of the kitchen, heading down to my room as Kirlia follows with a bowl of pokéblock. She sits at my feet nibbling her little colourful pieces of whatever as I eat my food. Cornflakes. No real taste, just bland. Unappetizing.
I used to love cooking. Vienna would feed the ingredients to me, carrots, lettuce, onions, all sorts onto the chopping board, and like a pro I’d run them through under my knife and be done in seconds, then slide them into the pot where they would sizzle and crack and pop as they hit the boiling water and were consumed under the surface.
Mum once had a friend of hers around, guy owned a Japanese restaurant. I was doing my thing with my knife and some fish, the guy was impressed; he offered me a job. I turned it down though; I just wasn’t ready to move onto things after losing Vienna.
And now look at me. Not allowed to so much as touch a knife..
I finish my cereal and toss my bowl on the bed carelessly, a little leftover milk spilling onto my covers. Kirlia looks up as I head for the door, still eating. She grabs a last cube in her mouth and hops after me with a muffled cry.
I pull off my jacket at the front doorway and throw it over a hat rack, then head out the front door in just shorts, jandals and a singlet.
I grit my teeth as the first wave of cold pounds me, whipping my exposed skin and biting it with its chill. I shake it off with a low curse, and press on into the cold winds, closing the door behind me as Kirlia jumps out. “No pain, no gain.” I remind myself as I push on.
Each lash today is more painful than the next, each colder and colder as my mind is struck repeatedly. Every chill just arouses desires and memories. Memories of Vienna. It makes me miss her, miss the way she would walk alongside me with her arms draped over my shoulder, leaning on me and sharing her body warmth. How we would hug one another and just stand there silent in the howling elements and be together. How, on a snowy school day we would simply lock ourselves in my room and gently make love all day long, clinging to one another and indulging in our passions, kissing and touching and whispering to one another, moaning and smiling and enjoying one another’s company.
Now there’s nothing to warm me, nothing save the cold warmth Kirlia tried to pass off as affection, trying to take Vienna’s place by my side. But she can’t.
But she can do one thing to help me. She can become stronger. She can evolve. And then, we can bring Vienna back.
A black hole isn’t the end, it’s simply a gateway through time and space, and if I can follow through that gateway… maybe I can find her, and bring her back…
And if I can’t bring her back…
Well, this world doesn’t need me anyway.
Cold barbed branches overhang the path from bushes either side and rake across my numb legs, catching in my hairs in them. Kirlia jumps as it releases from my leg and flicks back, leaping over top. A small archway halfway along the path provides me with just momentary warmth and shelter before I am back out in the battering, blistering wind.
At the roadside a car roars around the corner and past, lights on full and sweeping over my eyes as it passes, thundering down the road and away, sound disguised with a crack overhead and a flash drawing my attention.
Every storm is getting worse now. Every time I have that dream, the storm that morning becomes worse. The world feels my sorrow every time.
An agonisingly long ten minutes of walking later, I’m in the centre of town. Even the houses, walls, trees and whatever else of Viridian city don’t protect me from the elements, so intent on damaging me as much as possible. I should be flattered that the gods are going so far out of their ways to personally inconvenience me as much as possible. But I welcome it, every pain’s something more to fight back against and assist in our training.
We need to gain something big, so we’re gonna need a ****load of pain. I know I press Kirlia hard, but she’s had enough of a glimpse of my mind to know how important this is to me.
As I pace through the entrance of the park, a flimsy bush bends to me with a gust, leaves flooded with the morning’s rain and spilling over my head, soaking my hair an even darker black and matting it in patches further.
A fine mist rises at the far end of the park, rolling slowly over the soggy blades of grass all cut to equal height like one giant, level plain, ablaze with a ghostly fire, flickering and swirling into pale smoke and streaming from the ground.
I hear raindrops hammer on a tree I pass, smashing down on the leaves and bending them down in their unending torrent, dripping off into puddles swamping ditches and potholes in the ground beneath where roots have churned the soil up.
Every fifty metres or so a lone bench sits soaking and damp, timber heavy and rotting in their wrought framework. Next to each a solitary lamppost glows fuzzily in the contiguous moisture of the air, like a shining beacon of haven to any hapless bum in need of lodging until such point as their sorry ass is kicked off the premises by a passing policeman.
I stop in the centre of the path, just in front of one of the said benches, and I look around. There’s nobody here. Nobody else to brave the climate and train their Pokémon, nobody else to battle, nobody walking their Pokémon or playing games.
This rain is all mine after all, why should they have to brave it? They can sit on their asses in front of their cosy fires with their Pokémon in their lap, watching TV.
I sigh, hanging my head once more and falling into deep thought, momentarily unaware of the rain stinging my skin and soaking me thoroughly, dampness spreading through my clothing spot by spot.
If only… if only Vienna was here…
I wouldn’t be out here in this pissing rain, trying to push this poor little Kirlia so hard. I could be lying at home cuddling with Vienna, cuddling that would probably lead to sex in the end… a small grin shines through my obscuring veil of morose… we were guilty of doing that a number of times. Ever since I went through puberty. Vienna always saw it as her duty to help me with everything… she just saw that as another way to help me.
I turn look down beside me where Kirlia clings to my leg, shivering and shuddering in the cold, rain soaking her little body and chilling her. This isn’t fair on her. “Come here.” I lean down and scoop her up in my arms, much to her surprise. I hold her against my shoulder and walk to the bench, then sit down. I place her on my lap and stick my fingers under the bottom of my singlet.
“K-Kirlia?” She demands uneasily as I strip my shirt off.
“Come here.” I take my singlet in both hands and wring it out as best I can, then wrap it around her body and tie it up around her, like a little bundle. “See if this keeps you warm.”
This isn’t Kirlia’s fault. This isn’t her concern. This is my fault. My concern. She shouldn’t have to suffer pain for my gain. I hold her bundle tightly in my arms and I begin back home. It was stupid of me even coming out here today. Nobody around to battle with. No conditions to train in.
Maybe I’m trying to freeze myself. Maybe I’m trying to kill myself. If I am, I haven’t had any more success with it today.
“Kir-kir…?” She asks as I stand and hold her to my shoulder.
“You need a break from all this.” I pat her once on the head lightly then wrap my arms around the bundle, ignoring the cold biting at my arms and chest. In a rare move, my grip tightens a bit on Kirlia and I let my head hang beside hers as I walk, keeping the rain from stinging my face as my own tears form in the corners of my eyes. “I just want her back…” Kirlia’s head droops alongside mine and she rests it against me, closing her eyes gently. I feel a little presence nudge my mind.
I shake my head and tap her gently. “Don’t…” She lifts her head with a short mewl of protest. “No… this pain is my own. You don’t have to feel it, so don’t.” I stroke her head once, just one single time. “You know I don’t hate you, just remember that for me…” I whisper, ignoring the stares and blaring of passer-bys in cars, ignoring the frigid spasm of iciness as a puddle explodes under a wheel across my bare chest. “I know it seems like I don’t care about you, I do, but I just care about her more… I’m sorry…” I raise my head now, resting Kirlia’s head against my heart as if her touch might fill it with something worthwhile. As if it might fill that empty, black void with the warmth I once knew, now gone. As if it might make me worth something to this world.
As if, perhaps I can put Vienna to rest. As if, perhaps I could accept Kirlia…
My cold lips part, a soft murmur rolls over my tongue with the lyrics of my favourite song just hanging in my head:
“I dreamed I was missing… You were so scared…
But no one would listen… coz no one else cared…
After my dreaming… I woke with this fear…
What am I leaving… when I’m done here..?
So if you’re asking me I want you to know:
When my time comes, forget the wrong that I’ve done,
Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed...
Don’t resent me, and when you’re feeling empty
Keep my in your memory,
Leave out all the rest…
Leave out all the rest.” I pause appropriately, skipping out a verse or two.
All the hurt inside I’ve learned to hide so well.
Someone else can come and save me from myself.
I can’t be who you are…
I can’t be who you are…”
I go silent for a moment, digging through the lyrics to explain. “Vienna was like a second half of me…” I whisper, eyes unfocussed and staring into the distance, bleary with raindrops and fuzzy with tears. “She was by better half, literally… she was the better half of me, but she still sacrificed herself for me when we were attacked by those Mightyena… I want her back, Kirlia… I want that part of me back. That thing that brought out the good in me… Vienna was the only part of me people will miss, she is the reason I would be missed, because I trained her and I took care of her and raised her well… I want to know that, I helped bring someone to being who they are, and I want to know that I did well when I made those choices... I don’t need her back for my own benefit, I don’t matter anymore… I need her back for everyone else’s.”
When I arrived home I simply chucked all my gear on the floor beside me and went straight for the bathroom. My folks aren’t home, they’ve left for work already, what are they going to do?
I drew my bath five minutes ago, the time it took to fill I spent sitting naked on the edge of the bath, head hanging deep in thought, feeling the steam scald my back as it wafted up from behind me and ignoring it. The more I can ignore pain the better, pain makes us stronger.
Or so I try to tell myself. With every suicide attempt I just seem to grow weaker and weaker, with every cut both my life and resolve seems to bleed dry, my will to keep fighting to get Vienna back waning gradually, and the thought of giving up and accepting Kirlia growing. Days like this I’d probably be cutting myself, maybe because as much as what’s left of my heart wants Vienna back, my brain tells me she can’t be brought back, and I should just accept Kirlia. Days like this I’d be cutting myself, just for the sake of Kirlia growing on me, how she would clamber over me and beg me to stop and hold on to me crying… and how she would grow on me in my moments of weakness where my stony heart grows soft with the grief that the one I loved will never be back with me.
I slip over the edge of the bath into the water, grinding my teeth together as the burning heat scalds me all over, washing all over my skin and searing it. Every bath I draw just a little hotter than the day before. Call me a masochist if you want, but I’m not. I get no enjoyment out of hurting myself; I only do it to punish myself.
I slip under the water with a short huff as my skin quickly attunes to the heat, soon going numb, effectively removing what I believe to be the last feeling I have in my body, allowing my husk of a being to melt into the water down to my nose as my eyes shut properly. Maybe emotion is clouding my judgement, making me weak. If I can relax and let go of all emotion, perhaps I can stay stronger.
I’m told that without any emotions I’m just a robot or a machine. Whoever says that is wrong. Robots and machines have allotted tasks that they can do, I don’t. I’m much more like a ghost, just drifting and floating about, passing through anything solid as if I’m not even there, unable to do anything of use, simply making others shiver as they see me and my cold stare.
That’s all I seem to do nowadays.
Sometimes it’s hard to stay strong. Every day could be the same but my mind and will would still be haphazardly fluctuating differently every day. Some days are worse than others, my thoughts absolutely flooded with memories and dominated by the presence of something gone. Some days I am overwhelmed and tormented by the things I’ve done, my strength just falls completely and I feel myself break down into an endless, pathetic fit of crying as my face burns with anguish, singeing every tear and sending it rolling scalding down my cheek, only to fall down and fizzle out on the floor below. I know I can’t run away from those memories, so all I can do is become stronger so I can fight them. That’s the only thing I can do.
After I climb out of the bath and dress myself again, I head back into the living room. The rain beating at the window has ceased, spiting me no doubt since it was raining when I went out, and now that I’m back in everything’s bright and sunny. **** the world, it hates me.
As I pass the fridge, I notice one of those post-it notes stuck to the fridge. “Pasta tonight. George, can you bring home some of that sauce?” A note from my mum to my dad.
Kirlia sits on the couch looking rather bleak; a blank stare fixes her face on the black television screen in total silence. She looks like a ghost, I feel like a ghost, hell- if the Ghostbusters broke in and sucked me away they’d be doing us all a favour. Honestly, I’m that ****ing useless. The biggest contribution I make to the world is putting my coke bottle in the recycling bin after I’m finished instead of just chucking it in the rubbish bin. Yay for the environment. Ain’t I a ****ing saint.
There’s no noise at all as I head over to the couch and ease my frame onto the cushion. Mum’s at work, dad’s at work, just me and Kirlia. Everybody else who’s my age will still be at school being brainwashed by the stand-in Hitler-wannabes at Viridian East College.
I whip my iPod from my pocket and plug in, tuning out of this world and into my usual playlist, mostly Linkin Park, but with the occasional Nickelback spread through the mix, a little Sum 41, just my usual mix. For what’s not the first time, I find myself singing quietly to myself, lyrics of LP songs just barely rolling over my pale, cold lips. But I can only sit and wallow in the isolated solace of “leave out all the rest” for so long, and I eventually pick myself up again and head up to my parents’ room.
I slip dad’s wallet out from between his mattresses, I know where he hides it. I saw him hide it there once. I pocket a twenty and slide the wallet back between the mattresses just as it was, then head back downstairs with the cash in hand. I hear Kirlia sigh a bit behind me, disapproving of such, but who cares? She isn’t going to stop me. She’s not the boss of me, she doesn’t know stuff-all about me.
I head outside once again into the outside world. An unwelcome breeze slaps me as I hit the road walking, but I ignore it. The dewy grass soaks the thin soles of my shoes, worn and desperately needing replacement, but don’t have the money to replace them, lacking any kind of job.
Along the road I approach the local supermarket: a big yellow building, sickeningly bright. I head inside without so much as a glance at anyone else, my scowl in plain view to discourage others from even trying to make a conversation. They just end up being patronising anyway, or thinking I’m crazy or something retarded like that.
The security guard stands at the front doors- this big ***** with a ponytail. She glares at me as I head on past. Just for a moment I throw her a return glare, screwing my face up at her with a grunt, then passing.
I track my way through the supermarket following the glossy plastic signs overhead. I slide my way between dozy *****es staring at vegetables and sidle around old coots staring at what they think are vegetables, and make my way to the drinks aisle. I tuck three large cans of energy drink into the crook of my arm and carry on around this aisle to the next. I grab a couple of boxes of bars. Energy bars. I need all the energy I can get.
As I reach the counter a woman a little older than me smiles up at me with that falsified smile she wears. “Hello.” She says with annoying cheer as she takes my items and scans them through. “How have you been today?” I shrug. She looks up at me once more as she takes my things and I see her smile drop a little. There I go again- depressing people. She puts my things into a bag and hands it to me. “Have a nice day.” She mutters quietly, quickly sliding along her side of the counter to the next customer, and in a now monotonous voice: “Hey… how are you…”
I swing around the edge of the counter and walk straight for the exit doors, not even chancing a glance at the security guard as I stroll past.
“Gavin…” She warns. I sigh and come to a stop, hearing her approach from behind.
“Sue.” I mutter in reply.
“You know the drill. Pockets.” I hear from just over my ear. I place my bag on the ground and dig my hands into my pockets, then turn them inside-out, revealing nothing but a few fluffs of lint. “All right. Carry on.” She retreats to her position as I set off again.
“Kir-kir…” Kirlia sighs as she follows around onto the sidewalk with me. I ignore her and stop on the spot, lifting my right foot up. I pull out the band of my sock, and pull out a tube of Mentos.
“Gavin wins this time.” I murmur to myself, but just within earshot of Kirlia. “*****.”
“Kir!” She exclaims. Her face drops as she sees me slide the tube into my pocket, along with a few cents change.
“You’ll get over it.” I shrug, popping one into my mouth as I walk. One of the very few things I can call joys in my life. Outwitting that stupid ***** Sue. I get a certain lift from it, short-lived maybe, but still a lift. But who the **** puts things they don’t want found in their pockets?
I make my way to the park again, going on a different route from the supermarket. I arrive from the east this time, on the opposite side from where I arrived. I pull apart a bush while nobody’s looking and stash my food and drinks in there. I shove one can into a pocket and stuff a half-dozen bars into the other, holding one can in my hand, and I set off with Kirlia in tow.
It always starts easy. One end of the park to the other, then back. We both run alongside, sprinting. I fuel myself on energy additives as I go, doing whatever I can to match my effort output with fuel input so I can charge on at full speed. The same as usual. Two-hundred metres there, two hundred back. I don’t measure how far it is or how many times I go to the end and back, but at the end of the hour I’m really getting stuffed. I feel the back of my throat parch. It feels like a clump of ash is stuck in my mouth. It’s dry and thick and hot, clogging my airways. I double time it to my bush again and take my second can from the bush and down it on the spot. I bite into two energy bars at once as I set off again, dragging exhausted Kirlia behind me.
“Kir!” She cries breathlessly, tipping and falling just as I spin around. My initial reaction of continuing running only lasts me a second, and I stop. Normally she barely makes thirty minutes, this time she’s been going for an hour nearly- and she’s finally collapsed.
“Come on.” I walk to her slowly as she picks herself up, dizzy and tipping side-to-side. “You’ve had enough for one day.”
“Kir!” She pulls herself straight up, standing about as tall as she can get. “Ki-kir, Ki-kir!” She states adamantly, her tiny chest heaving with raspy breathes. I know that tone. That’s the same tone I use on her. “No pain, no gain.” She’s still going. She makes one step forwards, then another, and then another. She’s still going, trying to keep up with me- as always. She’s never really tried this hard to keep up- she usually collapses way before this.
A small smile tugs at my lips, partially of amusement, partly- I’m just going soft on her. “Come on. You’ve had enough pain for today. You can have a day off.” I scoop her up in my arms and begin back to my bush. This time I allow her as she falls against me in exhaustion. She’s run all this way, she deserves a break. She’s run all this way for me, she deserves a damn medal. “Thanks.” I say finally, giving in a little and placing a hand on her head and stroking a little. It’s never really sunk in until now… how much she goes through for me. “Thanks for keeping up.” The thing in my mind that keeps telling me to reject Kirlia isn’t present in this meeting. That thing that tells me I’m betraying Vienna… it’s gone. Maybe I see a little of Vienna in Kirlia. Vienna: she never gave up on me. She followed me everywhere. She held me. I could always count on her.
“Ki-kir…” She opens her eyes finally, looking up into mine. Hers are so big, wide, but not in a strange way. Maybe it’s something in the air that makes me think this, or maybe it’s my gratitude telling me to ease up on her, but it’s cute. Her eyes are pretty cute.
“Thanks for keeping up.” I repeat, trying to make it stick with her. “You really haven’t given up on me… all this time you haven’t…” I stifle a tear. It’s official- I’ve gone soft. “Even my parents have given up… and you haven’t…” This is the first time I’ve ever thought of it like that. My parents, my own parents have given up on me. My parents, who are supposed to love me to no end and take care of me… and yet here is Kirlia, the only one who still follows my sorry ass about-
Oh ****. I love her….
“K-Kirlia...?” I stammer weakly, a tide of guilt and shame befalling my poor bastard of a soul as I hold her in my hands in front of me. “Do you like me?”
“Kir-Kirlia.” She tells me, burying her head against my shoulder and emanating a soft, gentle aura from contact. I don’t need to understand Pokémon- that touch told me all I need.
“Kirlia… please listen to me carefully…” I place her on the ground in front of me, crouching so we’re eye-to-eye. “You know I love Vienna more than anything else in the world…” I have to make it clear. She’s never met Vienna- she doesn’t know what she’s like. She doesn’t know the extent of my love for her. She nods a bit. I’ve told her many times. “Well… what would you think… if I loved you too?”
“Kir!” She presses into me with all the strength she can muster, nuzzling into my stomach forcefully and almost pushing me over.
“Whoa… hold on…” I pry her head away a little, pushing her back a small way. “But you have to realise Vienna is still the closest thing to my heart.”
“Kir.” She nods quickly, agreeing and radiating with joy now.
“Just don’t try to replace her… okay? I love you both… but this will only work if you understand I love Vienna more.”
“Kirlia.” She nods in understanding. I’m lucky she’s so understanding. I’m about to add something else, but something catches my eye.
“What the-” I begin quickly towards my bush, where a familiar boy stands looking into it. Tony. Tony’s not usually alone… “Hey!” Tony spins towards me, face freezing in terror on sight. The bush parts, and out steps a larger boy of my age, my drink in his fat paw as he empties the remainder into his gullet.
“Gavin.” He spits, crumpling the can and dropping it beside him as he narrows his eyes on me. Grady. The only dropkick stupid enough to drop out of school, save me and his buddy Tony.
“What the **** are you doing?” I demand monotonously, breath seething through my teeth as I come to a stop in front of him. He burps loudly, then directs me an obnoxious stare. This isn’t like him- even he’s smart enough to know what happens when people **** with me. “I’ll give you ten seconds to convince me why I shouldn’t kill you on the spot.” I cross my arms and nod to him, tapping one foot on the ground. He knows I will too- what have I got to lose? Funnily enough, the way he grins it seems like he’s been expecting this.
“Aaw, why do that Gavvy?” he asks poker-faced. “You’re tough and we all know it, you’ve got nothing to prove.”
“I hear you’ve been looking for a Pokémon battle.”
So this is what it’s about. He has some new Pokémon and he’s looking for a fight- and so of course he comes to me. The creepy kid who’s always out training. What reason would I have to say no?
“No.” If anything, I’m the most shocked by that, but I roll with it. “Kirlia’s too tired to fight.”
“Kir!” I turn as I feel her tug on my leg. She hops up and down a few times, crying to me and nodding.
“You’re… you’re sure you’re okay?”
“Kirlia!” She hops in front of me, staring at Grady with intent.
“Oh yeah…” His hands rub together with a disturbing glint in his eye. “We got ourselves a battle…” He reaches to his belt and palms the sole capsule adorning it, rolling it in his fingers, then expanding it. “Hope you’re re-”
“Throw the damn ball already.”
My heart skips a beat. Time freezes for a moment, everything replaying suddenly…
“She has problems at home.”
“But she’s still a *****.” I murmur, still holding a grudge to some extent. I feel Vienna’s hand tighten a little on mine, drawing my eyes to her again.
“You don’t know what she’s been through-”
“-but even so…” I feel a tug back on my hand as I continue. I stop and turn to find Vienna halted and staring at something to the side of the pathway. Staring into the forest.
“I think there’s something in there…” She releases my hand and begins towards the trees with a curious step.
“What is it?” I follow after her, ducking under an overhanging branch as we go.
“I don’t know…” She murmurs as she wades deeper into the foliage. “I think it was a Pokémon…”
“There are Pokémon all around here, why such interest in this one?”
“It was afraid…” There goes Vienna- looking for the poor, scared Pokémon. Bless her.
“Rrr…” I spin, eyes fixing on points of interest all around.
“Did you hear that?”
“I did…” She steps to my side, warily scanning the area. “Wherever one is scared, there is one to do the scaring…”
“Mightyena!” We spin simultaneously to face backwards. The bush splits, and a rippling, furry black shape slinks from the bushline, fangs dripping hungrily and eyes intensely red with hate.
That was the day I lost Vienna. Attacks useless against dark type, she did the final thing she could. Her last resort ability- to protect me. They’ve always said a Gardevoir can create a black hole to save its trainer… nobody has really managed to get one to do that, though… except me. Except my Vienna…
“A Mightyena…” I rasp, stepping back a little. It seems Kirlia gets the same vibe- she steps away a bit also and sends me a concerned look. The Pokémon sees Kirlia, and a wan grin decorates his muzzle. A venomous grey tongue pokes between his lips and licks across a row of razor fangs, slathering them in his poison.
“What’s wrong, Gavvy?” Grady asks poker-faced. His joy doesn’t go unnoticed, and eventually a sly grin betrays him. “You afraid? Giving up?”
“Kir-kir!” Kirlia shakes her head vigorously and advances forwards again. The way she stands… she’s changed today. She’s really changed. She flashes me an encouraging smile over her shoulder, nodding. She’s happy. She’s tremendously happy, and she’s willing to do anything for me. She’s ready to fight.
“Yes.” Grady’s smile falters momentarily. Kirlia’s completely falls off her face.
“I give up.” I say. “What else am I supposed to do? You come along with your Pokémon picked specifically to beat me through type advantage and you expect me to fight you? You’re nuts.” I grunt. “No. I give up. I’m not fighting you.”
“You’re ****ting me.” Grady shakes his head quickly. “No, man. You said so. It’s a battle.”
“It’s not a battle, Grady.” I state adamantly. “It isn’t happening, so take your crony and bugger off. I’m busy.”
“You agreed to it, Gavvy.” He points a pudgy finger and steps towards me, glaring. “You agreed, so we have to battle.”
“Can’t you get it through your thick skull?” I made a quick step forwards, into his face. “It’s not happening, so bugger off!”
He lashes out. His fist hits me in the face before I realise what’s happening. I stagger back and regain my balance, rubbing my cheek with a growl. “Bad move.” I say darkly as he retreats. “You die now.”
“Quick attack!” His Mightyena disappears in a flash. I barely see Kirlia’s barrier appear a fraction too late as I’m hit. The world flies around overhead as I tumble, but I right myself and jump back to my feet.
“******!” I growl, and reach into my sock. I flick a switchblade from inside, and flick the blade out.
“Protect!” I yell and jump back. The Pokémon lunges at me from a metre, but Kirlia reacts quickly this time. The Mightyena slams into her barrier as she materialises it just in front of me- and the Pokémon collapses. “Down, Kirlia!” I yell as I run at the barrier. Just as I reach it, it shatters. The obscuring shield breaks like a pane of glass, and the pieces dissipate into the air as they wall.
No mercy- I lunge forwards as the Mightyena stands again, and swing my knife. We collide and I wrap my arms around it, stabbing. I hold it tightly as it falls limp and we roll to a stop- then it lies still. I tear the bloody knife from the Pokémon’s neck and climb to my feet, panting and staring hard at Grady.
“You- killed him…” He fumbles for another ball on his belt.
“Too slow.” I tell him and raise the knife over my head, holding the tip in throwing position. My arm swings.
“Kir!” I stop. I check over my shoulder as Kirlia runs to me, screaming: “Kir! Kir-Kir-Kirlia!” I turn back to the knife I hold, suddenly… awake. What am I doing? I realise. My grip falls loose, and the knife falls to the ground.
I was about to kill someone…
“Machamp!” Grady calls, releasing his second ball.
“I was about to kill him…” I mutter aloud, suddenly trembling. I was actually going to kill somebody… somebody else. I’ve always threatened people, but I’ve never come that close to doing it… I still feel a presence on me. At that moment where my hand, holding my knife- was moving, something grabbed me. Something dark, something evil… it told me to do it. to kill him… I still feel it… what am i? What have I become?
“Fire punch!” Grady calls, but I don’t even hear him. Too consumed by my own mind, I don’t hear anything.
“Kirlia!” Kirlia cries, creating another barrier to protect me as the punch comes flying my way.
“I’ve changed… I’m… different…” I mutter still. My eyes are open, but I see nothing but myself. Just a reflection of me, but inverted. Blacks are white, whites are black, everything is backwards. It’s me, but different.
“Fire punch! FIRE PUNCH!”
“Kirlia! Kirlia!” She begs, holding her barrier with every inch of her strength as it is pounded restlessly by the Machamp.
“I’m different…” I repeat. I was about to kill Grady. His life for mine… would it really be worth it? Whose life would truly be more valuable? Mine or Grady’s? is it my choice anyway? Is it my right to decide? Will fate choose for us? Has fate chosen him by making me drop that knife? Am I destined to die?
I feel the barrier shatter. I feel every shard of it slice across my skin and tear my clothing as the pieces rain over me. Then there is the impact… it’s so soft, but so powerful. I know it’s hit me, but I’m just trapped in my mind, my physical body is drifting away slowly. It’s so numb. Even hitting the ground, I feel so little. Just the world tumbling and spinning.
I wait. I wait for the last thing I will ever hear. Kirlia’s sweet little cry of “Kirlia” as she tries to protect me. Her horrified protest as she tries to save me…
Nothing. There is nothing.
I feel the hit- it’s softer than all the rest. Then… so little. The world just… falls away. I feel myself lifted- the ground isn’t there anymore- I feel like I’m flying. The world spins and flies past everywhere… nothing left. Am I dead?
I wait a while, indulging in the flying feeling for a minute- completely blind and deaf to the world, totally numb… there’s nothing.
There’s a hit.
“Ah! ****!” Like a million litres of water being dumped on my head, my sight, hearing, feeling, everything drops back on me again. I swing my arm out in defence as I throw myself upright, flailing at the attacker. I open my eyes, and the sun floods in again…
“Gar…?” A leafy fringe appears overhead, draped over half a pale face, wrought with concern. Above her, the treetops are lush and green.
“Vienna?” I murmur. “Am I… am I dead?” She shakes her head.
“Gardevoir.” She tells me, reaching down. I take her hand and let her haul me to my feet. I stagger forwards a bit, but she catches me. I lean on her shoulder as I regain my balance. When I’m standing, she releases me and steps back a little.
“Kirlia…?” I murmur, still dizzy.
“Gardevoir.” She corrects me with a grin.
“Gar.” She cocks her head with a happy “no-****” expression.
“Grady…” I turn around. There’s the body of a Mightyena lying there in a small pool of blood. Nothing else. “You… you beat him.”
“Gardevoir.” She confirms cockily and nods, crossing her arms with a satisfied grin.
“Wait-” I spin around, everything hitting me. “You evolved!”
“Gardevoir.” She says again, nodding once more. My lips seal, and I nod back slowly.
“You know what this means?”
“Gar-Gar.” She nods.
“So… do you think you can do it?” I ask, suddenly aware of how difficult this could be. “Vienna only did it when I was in danger. She could only do it to save me…”
Gardevoir takes a step forwards and unfolds her arms, placing a hand on my cheek. “Gar-Gardevoir…” She tells me. just by her tone I understand what she says. I am in danger. She does have to save me. From myself.
She turns and begins towards the forest, gesturing to me over her shoulder to follow. I do so quickly. For the first time it’s me following her.
She leads me fifty metres into the forest, and she stops. “Gardevoir.” She places a hand on my shoulder. It’s cold. It’s so cold… Her free hand lifts from her side, and she holds it still. Her eyes glow, glazing over black as she taps into her innermost power, and unleashes it. The air before me cracks, and then it tears:
Limbs pinned back and immobile, clasped in the grip of terror as the world collapses around me, folding inwards to the centre and snapping, creaking and breaking in whirlwinds of dirt.
The winds whip up with renewed fury, the sky above and ground below twisting in their very mortal binds. The clouds stretch down, drawn into the vacuum rumbling and churning like a huge black wave, coiling over and over on itself and twisting ominously, no true sound created but an ambient humming shaking my very soul with its horrid power.
This monstrosity, this furious and unnatural thing that bends the laws of physics like an unholy, abyssal Arceus… this is a black hole. A time rip, a tear in space as a whole, a force that breaks and bends all others to its will.
“This is it…” I say, staring at the thing. Ever since Vienna left me, this thing here has been the sole reason for my existence… now, I finally have it. “Is it stable?” I ask, noticing an odd lack of suction that was present near the last hole. Gardevoir nods, and lowers her arm.
“Gardevoir.” She nods at the hole, and suddenly there is colour. There is a scene from my past.
“It’s where I first found you…” Just a tiny grin slips to my face, tugging at my lips as I see the park where I found her as a Ralts before me, a little blurred by the presence of the hole, but unmistakeable. Then there’s something else.
A figure appears in at the right, distant, walking along the path slowly with his head hanging. I can’t help but drop my jaw, shaking my head. “I can’t be…” I don’t know why I say that, I know it is. “It’s me…”
“Gar.” Gardevoir nods, moving to my side quietly, watching as keenly as I am.
“I remember this day…” my words barely leave my lips, almost hooking on my tongue and disappearing back down my throat. “This day… when I first found you…”
“Gar.” She confirms once more, pointing to me with a nod, as if something were about to happen.
The other me walks slowly, his head hanging low and hands in pockets, anger burning darkly in his soul after his first suicide attempt, his failure hidden this day under a thick bandage coiled from shoulder to hand. Underneath is the biggest scar I have. I look down myself, dropping my eyes to my left wrist, where even now the thing is still visible, discoloured pale skin across my wrist with deeper red tinting the outside of the mark, rough and bumpy in texture.
I look back up to myself again, a little thing twinges inside me, remembering how terrible I felt that day. Then, something in my chest tightens all of a sudden, like a sharp pain. Something else emerges.
“I was trying to kill myself.” I gasp, memories of that day flooding back all to quickly for me as I see the situation unfold before me, spurring my thoughts.
Gardevoir nods again with a little murr of agreement.
“No, I was trying to kill myself again.” Gardevoir flicks her head around quickly, focussing a shocked stare on me. I ignore her, unable to remove my eyes from this piece of my past. “There’s a 9mm pistol in my trouser pocket.” I say quickly, reciting everything that was going through my head that day. “One bullet in the clip. Then there’s a suicide note wrapped up in a plastic bag so my blood won’t mess it up…” I remember every titbit in brutal detail. “I had picked out a place the day before, a clearing in the forest where a quaint little river passed through. The place Vienna and I would go to some days to eat and watch the stars at night… I figured my blood would fall into the stream and be carried away… that place gave me so much happiness, maybe I figured it would be best to give a little back… give back what little life I had left still.”
We both stand silently for a moment, watching a younger me by about six months drag his sorry frame along, trudging for the end of the path. “And there’s that lamppost.” I murmur, replaying the exact order of events in order at ten times speed over and over in my head. “I just got past that lamppost when I heard you cry out… then I ran to find you being attacked by those Poochyena…”
We both wait, an inexplicable calm shared between us as we watch a suicidal kid walk towards his own death, rueing in his own anger and grief. He walks past the lamppost.
“This isn’t right.” I realise, my voice level, but shaking just a little. “No, I remember it perfectly, I stopped at the lamppost when I heard you cry out, I didn’t keep walking…” Other me doesn’t listen to reason, and relentlessly keeps going. “Gardevoir!” I cry into the rip, fear heating my throat horribly. “Cry out! Say something! Stop me!” But she doesn’t say anything. A single tear rolls down her face and her head hangs. At her sides her fists clench bitterly, shaking and trembling. “What are you doing?” I spin to Gardevoir with heat growing through my head and heart. “Stop it! What are you doing? Cut it and open Vienna’s portal!”
“Gardevoir…” One pale arm lifts, and slowly her finger uncurls, and points to the portal.
“Vienna’s portal.” I state adamantly, my own fists clenching in anger, realising what she’s trying to do. She’s trying to make me feel sorry for her; she’s trying to replace her. How can she do this? After everything, how can she do this?
She keeps her finger rigid and pointing at the portal, nodding. “Gardevoir.” I look once more to the portal, then back quickly.
It all happens too quickly. My legs go cold first, the heat in my head flushes away, receding to the depths of my soul in a heartbeat. It makes sense… so much sense. I turn back to the portal quickly, mouth hanging open a fraction. “You aren’t in there…” I realise slowly, the world seeming to turn totally upside down around me. “You never existed there, you always existed here… you aren’t in there because you’re out here… those Poochyena attacking you aren’t there because…” I fall silent, everything sets in properly, all doubt erases in a second of understanding. I shake my head slowly, looking up to Gardevoir slowly as my face pales.
“Gavin.” She nods, tears spilling down her cheeks. We dash towards each other with short, simultaneous steps, and embrace, arms thrown around one another and holding on tightly, burying our heads in the other’s shoulder as my own eyes flush with tears.
“You’re alive…” I whisper as her hands play on my shoulders and back, stroking and touching softly, suddenly warm with love and alive with feeling, even through my shirt tingling against my skin.
“I am.” She says back softly, closing her eyes with a blissful grin stretched across her fair lips. “I always have been.”
“Why did you never tell me…?” I whisper, much quieter as her arms wrap around my head, caressing me with newfound sensation I haven’t felt for so long.… Something swells within me, something I thought long dead in me… like my heart has been asleep for so long, and now is bursting to life like an explosion.
“I tried to…” She replies, crying harder into me as her tears soak my shirt thoroughly. “But you didn’t see any of my signs, my telepathy didn’t register with your brain, your mind was so frazzled you couldn’t accept it. I tried calling to you every time you hurt yourself and every time you cried, but you wouldn’t hear me…” She sniffs, hugging me tighter. “I’m sorry… I’m so sorry I put you through all of that pain… all of it, I left you, but you never left me… I don’t know how it felt for you to be away from me because I was with you again as soon as I went through that rift… I don’t know what I can do to put it right…” Her grip loosens on me suddenly, and she releases and steps back, mouth freezing. My head hangs, no tears dripping from my eyes fixed so squarely on the ground. “Gavin… what’s wrong?” She places her hands on my cheeks and lifts my head slowly to face her. All that feeling, all that warmth, is gone. Nothing left, just as empty of feeling as it ever was. “We can be together again! Aren’t you happy?”
“I’m not.” Her skin just goes colder at my confession, blood seeming to freeze inside her. I finally look up at her, in her eyes apologetically. “I thought you would make it better.” I say, my voice shaking and husky with confusion and anger and sadness... and something else a little more positive. “I thought when I got you back, everything would be so much better… I told myself when I got you back it would be back to how it was… but it isn’t…”
“In the year you were gone, I changed…” my voice goes deep, darker. “I did things I regret. I stole, I hurt, I attempted suicide several times, and most of all… I was cruel… to you.” I sniff a bit as I look up, forcing back a tear. “But I said to myself “it’ll all be better when I get you back”. I thought of you as a second half of myself, the better half, and when I got my other half back, I would be whole again, and it could all return to how it was, happy and loving… and then perhaps my existence might be worth something with you completing me…” I shake my head sorrowfully. “I was wrong, it just took you in front of me like this to realise… you’re not a second half, I was just relying on you to make everything better. I still did all those things, and not even you can make it better now. I’ve been using you as an excuse for all my troubles and reassuring myself it was all because of some lack of a “second half”…” I shake my head again, sighing deeply. “All that “other half” stuff… it’s all ********. I can’t just use your absence as an excuse for what I’ve done, because you were still with me half that time, and I was such an ******* to you that whole time…” By this point, Vienna’s face is full of tears again, her soft, beautiful eyes wavering sadly. “Come here…” I reach up with one finger and stroke across her cheek, wiping the teardrops away and rubbing her skin softly. “I’m sorry… but I’ve gone too far…”
“What are you talking about?” She demands shakily, grabbing my wrist in one trembling hand.
“I’ve gone too far to just turn around and change just like that for no reason other than you being here.” I realise, almost a smile on my face at a new realisation, but I hide it. “I can’t just expect everything to be better since you’re here, I need to get help and truly sort my **** out, not fall back on “being depressed” or “incomplete”. I’m not going to get anywhere relying on others to fix all of my problems. I need to become my own person, and all this time I’ve thought that was impossible without my second half.”
“I still love you Gavin…” She sniffs, hugging me again, gripping me tightly in her arms. “You can still be your own person, but please! I want to be with you! I don’t want to leave you!”
“I know Vienna…” I whisper back, hugging her tightly, but placing my hands under her backside and lifting her up off the ground. “So be with me. Don’t leave me.” I begin forwards slowly, holding Vienna off the ground as she looks over her shoulder desperately.
“Gavin… what are you doing..?”
Everything goes white, lighting up in a huge flash, the outline of the world fading blue and then shrinking back into the white… then the world just reappears.
The sun shines down on me and the little Pokémon in my arms as I walk across the grass quickly, eyes focussed on a patch of bush in the distance. “You don’t have to leave me, but I’m going to have to leave you.”
“Ralts?” Vienna gasps in shock, looking down at her tiny body, then the hole behind me, still twisting and churning with our world on the other side.
I ignore her and break into a run, quickly adjusting to my new, slightly shorter legs and dashing along the path towards the bush. “Please don’t be late…” I growl through my teeth, my new, slightly higher voice surprising me a bit.
The whole novelty of time travel is lost on me. Time travelling isn’t a novelty, time travelling is the means to get something important done, and I’m sure as hell not going to **** around.
I leap clear over the line of bushes and into the forest, mind vivid with the path I was taking that day. I duck and dash around trees, placing steps carefully between plants and roots and heading deeper into the forest.
“Ralts-ralts!” Vienna calls, biting my shirt for me to stop.
“I can’t, Vienna.” I mutter through my growing fatigue, almost panting already in my younger, less fit body. “There’s somebody who needs you more than I do.”
I break the forest line once more with a huge leap, soaring over a mossy rock at the figure in front of me. “Stop!”
He spins around. I do. The pistol trembles against his temple and his eyes widen. Not fear, but shock, shock masked by torment and anguish.
“Y-you…” He stammers as I come to a stop, panting heavily and glaring at him. “You’re…me..?”
“Don’t do it!” I cry breathlessly, stumbling forwards, still holding Vienna tightly. I take her in both hands and hold her out to him. “Vienna…”
The gun falls from his hand at the mention, landing with a splash in the stream I mentioned. “V-Vienna…?”
“Yeah, bro.” I say, just smiling a bit as he tears up. I haven’t cried in joy for god knows how long. “It’s Vienna. And she’s all yours.” As I walk toward him, I bring her back to me one last time, and I kiss her on the forehead, then I whisper: “Vienna… I love you. Be good for me, please?”
“I can’t believe this…” I sob, still clutching my precious Pokémon in my arms with her head resting against my shoulder, no desire to ever release her anytime soon. “You’re back… it’s really you, isn’t it?” I grin, falling on the couch with a huge grin from cheek to cheek.
*Thirty minutes later*
Vienna smiles up at me and nods, then moves back to me and nuzzles into my stomach. “Ralts…” She purrs affectionately as I place one hand on her head and stroke her.
“And you’re from… the future…” I shake my head again, disbelieving what just happened. “Me from the future… giving me you from the future…” I sigh and let my head fall back, blissful sensation spreading from where Vienna rubs against me and rising through my whole body. “I always thought I was some kind of selfish, horrid monster without any compassion…” I confess at length, feeling a great, welcome release at the realisation. “But that can’t be true, can it?” I look back down to Vienna with a smile. “If I’m willing to give you up for another’s happiness, I really must be compassionate… maybe I still have hope…”
“Ralts.” She agrees warmly, still ceaselessly rubbing against me as if she’s never going to stop.
“Screw it.” I realise, my grin somehow growing wider. “I don’t care what I said earlier, I’m going to go back to school next year.” I give Vienna a short scratch under the chin. “If I’ve got a hope in hell of being someone still, I’ve gotta get an education!”
“Gavin!” I almost jump clear out of my seat as mum’s voice calls shrilly from the next room. “That was Mr Ryobi on the phone, he’s coming over for dinner! Can you make that fish thingy of yours?”
“Sure mum!” I call eagerly, grinning still. “Hey, wait… isn’t he that guy who owns that restaurant over town?”
There is a short pause. “Yes, that’s him.”
“Sweet!” I stand up, lifting Vienna into my arms. “Hey, do you reckon if I cook well enough he’ll offer me a job? That would be so cool!”
“I remember black skies, the lightning all around me…
*Twenty minutes before*
I remembered each flash as time began to burn…
Like a startling sign that fate had finally found me…
And your voice was all I heard…
Did I get what I deserve…?
So give me reason, to prove me wrong
To wash this memory clean,”
I wander into the rest of “New Divide” as the world finally reappears around me, emerging from the white glow occupying my vision as I leave transition between worlds. But the song is right. Fate has finally found me, and now I have to be held accountable for my actions, and I need to fix all those things. Everything sinks in, the magnitude of my past actions realised and the consequences now clear to me. I’ve done things, and I need to make them right.
It’s raining now. It wasn’t when I went in… strange. I look around and upwards as I walk back into the clearing, feeling a fluctuation of sorts behind me, knowing it is the rip closing. It has felt me leave. A strange calm descends over me, like, all the anxiety I’ve built up over the years just seeps through my feet and into the soil. Maybe Vienna was the source of my anxiety all along, and now that I know she’s in a place where she’s happy, I can finally move on and enjoy something.
I stop short and place my hands in my pockets, looking left and right again. If I’m going to start anew, I might as well start right now.
A journey of a million miles must begin with a single step. So which direction am I going in? Left- to the path? Right- deeper into the forest for a walk in nature?
“Rio?” I turn my head left as a bush rustles nearby, shaking free a couple of leaves. The front parts and a little blue head pokes out, sniffing the air. “Ri-Riolu?” He queries, looking across at me.
I smile and kneel down to one knee. I don’t know why I smile, but there’s something rather cute about the little guy, and there isn’t that thing inside me telling me I shouldn’t be smiling- like there was previous to my time-travel. In fact, there’s something encouraging it. “Hey little guy.” I call, tousling my fingers in the grass and drawing his attention. He quickly leaps from the bush with great agility and onto the clay, then dashes across the grass over to my hand. He dives as he approaches, then commando crawls the last metre, hiding his snout in the uncut grass with a sparkle of curious excitement in his eyes.
“Rio…” It murmurs, watching my fingers in the grass like a predator watches prey. I smile a bit more and chuckle a bit. I haven’t laughed in a long time, and as awkward as it sounds, it feels good.
“Hey, I don’t suppose you like pasta?”
“See you Gavin!” A woman waves after me, then blows a quick kiss as she slips back through the double glass doors. Vienna is a step ahead, leaping in between us and deflecting the kiss with a light screen of all things.
*10 years later, another parallel. Gavin aged 27*
“Haha! A little overdramatic of you Vienna.” I laugh as she returns to my side with a smile, the two of us pacing across a pedestrian crossing.
“Like I’m letting that harpy steal you away from me?” With a goofy grin she drapes herself over my shoulder, snatching something from my head playfully.
She leaps away with a grin, holding a white chef’s hat high over her head. “Got your hat!”
“Come on Vienna.” I sigh with a smile, hands on hips. “We don’t have time for this.”
“It’s a lunch break, Gavin.” She sighs, tossing my hat back to me. I tuck it into a backpack quickly, then resume walking. “The others are more than capable of handling the lunch rush on their own, what’s the point of a lunch break if you can’t stop work and eat?”
“To keep working so others can eat.” I reply as I replace my backpack. “Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time after work at home for us to rest.”
“Yes…” She agrees, just murring a little in her throat and walking closely at my side again with a sly grin. “Rest…” Her voice carries a subtle undertone of sarcasm.
Ten minutes later, in a much quieter, dirtier part of town, I approach an old RSA building, long forgotten by most folk. I smile and throw both the double doors open with a great flourish, striding into the room to immediately be greeted by the stench of booze and filth.
“Hello gentlemen! The cook’s in the house!”
A troop of rag-tag homeless men laugh themselves to their feet, their otherwise glum faces lit up with toothy smiles as they converge on me.
“About bloody time of you, Gavin!” A man in an itchy looking sweater laughs, slapping me on the back in that friendly way. “We’s getting hungry for some of the fiyeey miyong or whatever you serve up!”
“Fillet minion.” I correct him, hauling off my backpack. “It’s not cheap, but nothing’s too expensive for you, my friends.”
“Serving Fillet minion to homeless men.” Vienna murmurs privately through telepathy, shaking her head and crossing her arms with a sincere grin. “Only you Gavin… only you…”
I spin and stare at Vienna with a look of great hurt. “I have a Michelin star! I am not serving them chicken soup with a Michelin star!”
*another parallel, same time. Gavin aged 27*
“Charizard! Hang in there!” He cries, teeth gritted as his Pokémon staggers back to its feet. A small grin passes my lips for a second, seeing the bulky creature pick itself up.
“He’s strong.” I commend, nodding with a smile. “Excellent training.” But you always have to be the bad guy. “Vance! Water pulse!”
The Lucario in front of me nods, lifting one arm out to the side.as his palm glows blue, eyes sharp and focussed on his target.
“Go.” With a deft flick of his wrist, the Lucario tosses a glowing sphere of blue energy at his target, feet firmly planted to the spot. The Charizard makes a step sideways, but his leg buckles under his weight, weak from fighting, and the water pulse crashes into him.
“Charizard! No!” The boy dashes across the battlefield to his Pokémon as it hits the ground, bouncing once and rolling onto its back, unconscious.
A mammoth roar splits the ambient calling and hooting as the crowd explodes into an uproar, howling and cheering and yelling at the top of their lungs.
I too head for the unconscious Pokémon, ignoring the crowd all around.
“And once again, another flawless victory for Gavin Mars! Another trainer falls at his feet, and the question still stands: Can he be beaten- no, can he even be touched? Well, only time will tell folks, but for now we do know one thing- They don’t call him champion for noth-”
“Nice fight, kid.” I comment, coming to a stop before the boy and his Pokémon. He has to be no older than seventeen.
He looks up at me with teary eyes, flooded with disappointment at the sight of every one of his prize Pokémon being beaten down without managing to land a hit. I sigh and kneel at his side, my black overcoat dragging in the clay underfoot. “Don’t worry about it, man. You’re a fantastic trainer, and you’ve got places to go.” I nod with a grin, raising a thumbs up. “I’m an old bastard, I’ve had more experience. You’ve got the whole world in front of you, so get out there and experience it, then when you come back…” I bring my fist up and put it to my heart. “Then we’ll have a real battle. A battle to remember. And win or lose, it’ll be fantastic.” The boy sniffs one more time, and shuts his eyes for a moment, cutting short his stream of tears. “Come on.” I reach one hand out to him and help him to his feet again. “Get some rest and get out there. You’ve got too much to do in life to spend all your time mulling over losses. Trust me, I know.”
The boy stares at me for a little longer, red slowly fading from around his eyes, then he nods quickly. “Yeah. Okay then.”
“Good.” I give him a friendly pat on the back, nodding to him. “Now get out there and train, and I don’t want to see you back until you can kick my ass into the ground, alright?” The boy chuckles a bit, nodding to me. “Thatta boy.” I commend, giving him one last smile as I turn and head away. “Remember, a good fight, win or loss, just enjoy it!”
“You know how put that spark in their eye.” Vance, my Lucario remarks with a nod, leaning against the entrance into the tunnels leading out of the arena.
“I do what I can to inspire them.” I add modestly, passing him and letting him fall into line behind me. After a minute of walking, I finally turn off into a room on my left, marked with a big “Pokémon league Champion” banner and symbol on the door. “Well, that’s three trainers in a row without taking a single hit.” I start, pushing open the doorway and heading in, throwing off my overcoat onto a hat rack as I step inside. “You must be really exhausted after all that.” I add tauntingly, walking backwards into my room as Vance closes the door behind me.
“Oh, no.” he replies, walking towards me with a grin. “I’ve got plenty of energy.” One hand raises and with a psychic lift flicks me off my feet, onto the bed behind me. I fall limp on it with a grin as he leaps onto it too, then straddles my hips with a sly grin. “Lots and lots of energy…” he hints, trailing a claw around my bellybutton through my singlet with a sultry murr.
“Nah, not today, man.” I yawn, arching my back a bit and lifting him off the bed a bit. “I’ve had enough action over the last few hours without having to “battle” with you; I’m just taking it easy.”
Vance shrugs, then falls down on one leg lying beside be, our faces level. “You’re the boss.” He comments, leaning closer slowly. I don’t stop him, I just grin as he slides his tongue up my cheek affectionately, slipping one arm under me and draping one over top of me and holding me, then he puts his head on my shoulder and nuzzles into me with a warm smile and purrs: “Love you, boss…” I smile and slip my arm around his neck, then heave him up on top of me again so he’s right above me.
“I love you too, man.” I tell him, ruffling the fur on his head, then sliding my hand down the back of his head.
Then I pull his head towards me, and we kiss.