When I began playing Pokemon back as a tiny tot I never imagined I'd still be unfathomably obsessed with it as a twenty-something year old. Yet, here we are. I've lost interest in the anime and manga over the years, but the games (somehow) still sit near and dear to my heart. That being said, I used to write quite a lot of game-inspired fan fiction, mainly published on FF.net. This was way back in the 2012-era though, and I like to think I've grown considerably as a writer since then.
The story you'll find published below is my latest attempt at circumventing my boredom. I know that I'll want to rewrite the prologue and initial chapters once I get momentum going, but I also know that if I don't get the courage to post it now, I won't ever.
However, please be aware that this story is a story within a story, Russian nesting-doll style. That is, the main story takes place within the present and deals with the consequences of the past. Every alternating chapter is written in the past in order for you to understand the events that unfolded in real-time.
This all being said, there's some content warnings I wanted to include for you all before we got started. Please be advised that this fic includes mature themes and language.
Four years ago Bea was selected to go undercover and thwart Team Magma's plans. She failed, but nobody knew why. Rumors spread, and things got out of hand. When she disappeared, nobody knew where she went. Now she's back at the annual gym leader conference to both prove herself and tell her story. But there's more to uncover than just her side of the story.
It was never supposed to have ended the way it did.
Everyone says that, of course. Nobody expected it to end like it did. They had all trusted me, believed in me. I wasn’t supposed to fail.
But life wasn’t always predictable, and it wasn’t always a happy ending. I wasn’t the hero, I was the villian. And too often in our world you only hear of the good endings. The kinds where the trainer saves the day and stops the end of the world. You never hear about the times where they fail and somebody else has to clean up their mess. Why would you, after all? It doesn’t make for an interesting story.
Or maybe it does, and I’m just too hard on myself. Maybe the entire thing was an accident like he told me (over and over and over again) and there is something of value in hearing my side. I truly don’t know anymore. I’ve heard so many different versions I’m not even sure which one is the right one anymore- so maybe this is all just in my head and I really did fck up.
I honestly and truly don’t know anymore.
The only thing I do know is that I can’t keep hiding. Not because I want to stop, but because I have to. It’s been four years and whatever damage was done has long been resolved. Or I hope, at least.
I could feel my heart hammering in my chest, threatening to beat out of it entirely. My eyes were glued shut, unwilling to open until they absolutely had to. The waves pounded at the boat relentlessly, tossing it from the side to side despite its power as it churned across the surface. If I didn’t know better I’d have thought we were going overboard.
My hands were clenched into fists at my sides, the balled-up fabric of my sweatshirt becoming damp with sweat as I counted the passing seconds until we arrived at our destination. I knew it wouldn’t be long.
My body nearly betrayed me as nausea bubbled up from my core, the sound from the propeller beginning to dull down as we approached the dock. I squeezed my eyes together tighter, the sounds of the tourists seated around me beginning to pick up in anticipation.
Then, all at once, the propeller flicked off. The entire boat went silent as everyone rose out of their seats in unison, my gut flipping upside down. I felt my breathing become ragged as I instinctively turned my head toward the window, hiding my face from passerby’s as they slowly descended toward the stairs. I could hear their footsteps as they walked down the set and onto the dock, the wooden boards creaking beneath them.
It wasn’t until there was a sturdy moment of silence that I finally opened my eyes, coloring flying into my vision at a dizzying rate. Clamping my mouth shut to hold back my queasiness, I stood up slowly, keeping my eyes on the floor as I made my way down the aisle.
With a deep and steadying breath, I took my first step down the stairs, hearing the boat captain give an impatient sigh behind me. Almost as soon as my shoes hit the planks of the dock the propeller was back on, the boat backing away as quickly as it had come. I knew it’d be back- he probably had about ten more trips to make just today. But I wouldn’t get back on. I’d promised myself.
A breeze whipped past me, striking my sweatshirt as I turned toward the beach at the end of the dock. I held up a hand to my forehead, attempting to deflect the harsh rays of the sun. It was a beautiful island- like always- but psyduck if it wasn’t nauseatingly bright.
Clutching my bag to my side I forced myself to begin my trek toward the beach, although it felt more fittingly like a trip toward the guillotine. I could hear the murmurs of the small crowd that had gathered to greet the new arrivals beginning to chorus beyond the short line of palm trees that blocked off the view of the dock and felt the intense urge to run. I could swim back to the mainland, right?
But as I turned my head to look back I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. The mainland wasn’t even visible from here. Plus, I had made a promise. Why I was so hellbent on keeping it when it may just kill me, I wasn’t sure. But it was too late to go back now. Maybe I could just hide in my cabin for the rest of the conference.
It wasn’t until the very front of the crowd became visible beyond the cove that I heard the announcer above the dull roar of the crowd. It was odd that he was so quiet at this time of day- very unlike him. But it was still early on in the arrival period, so maybe he wasn’t ready to start yet. Maybe I had lucked out and could come in unseen.
“Wait up friends!”
Yeah, or not. That was cool too.
Brawly’s booming voice resounded over the clearing, drawing the attention of the small crowd. “It looks like we have a straggler, folks!”
Every step felt nearly painful as I approached closer, knowing that someone would recognize me at any second. Then it would start- the name-calling, the whispering. I was prepared for it, though. Or at least I hoped I was.
“Hold up, yo! Is that who I think it is?” Brawly said, taking a step toward the dock questioningly.
I felt like throwing my arms up in surrender or shouting sarcastically. Yes, it was me. Let’s just get it over with, shall we? But I knew that wouldn’t help my case any. If I wanted to survive I needed to keep my head about me, no matter how much I wanted to cry and scream on the inside.
“Is that psyducking Bea?” Someone shouted, their voice indiscernible from the back of the crowd. I flinched visibly at the venom that dripped from it. I was glad I couldn’t see whoever it was- the malice in their eyes would only hurt that much more.
I made a sharp turn along the wall of trees that hugged the beach, trying my best to beeline for the cabin. But I knew as soon as I heard the crunch of sand behind me that it wasn’t going to happen.
“Wait wait-” he said quickly, grabbing my wrist.
My body pulled back suddenly, the inertia of my body wanting me to continue forward. I whipped my head around, coming face-to-chest with none other than Brawly. He was taller than I was, and his shoulders loomed broader than I remembered. He seemed tanner, too.
“It is you.” He said softly, blinking in surprise.
I recoiled, yanking my arm back from him. The softness of his voice stung- the incredulousness of it. We were once good friends, and now he sounded as though he had seen a ghost. I knew I had done it to myself, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.
“Yes, it’s me,” I said, staring at my feet in the sand. “I can leave if you want me to.”
I could see his shadow sway slightly, as though my comment had caught him off guard- a rare thing for him. “No no.” He said, clearly recovering quickly. “You know the rules. Once welcomed, always welcomed.”
A snort flew from my nose as I rolled my eyes instinctively. Yeah, okay. Tell that to whoever had given me that oh-so-nice greeting. “Doesn’t feel like it,” I said instead.
“It’s been a while.” He said awkwardly.
Slowly I brought my gaze upward, meeting his. I knew he’d be able to tell I was struggling, but I was hoping he’d let me go. This conversation was painful. “Yeah well, I guess that’s what happens when you-”
His face fell as I stopped myself. Awkward silence drudged between us as I stood there, feeling my walls beginning to crumble. I didn’t mean for this to start this way. I was supposed to be strong, act like I didn’t care. Why was this so hard?
“In any case,” he said slowly. “I’m glad you’re here. And I’m sure there are others as well.”
“If you’re sure,” I said blandly. He was lying through his teeth, but that was okay. It was the effort that counted. After another moment of silence, I nodded my head to him, feeling my throat beginning to burn with unspilled tears. “I’ll see you around.”
It was nearly midnight, but my eyes would not shut. I had tried for hours to sleep but my brain betrayed me. Instead, I had settled for staring at the ceiling, my mind wandering off. I had almost fallen into a trance when a rustling outside my door caught my attention. I whipped to attention, watching as the shadows began to dance around my room as someone moved about outside, the light pouring in from the hallway just beneath the frame.
I lay silently, afraid to move as I watched a hand lay flat on the ground beneath the frame. I watched it jerk before disappearing, followed by the sound of footsteps echoing down the hallway, signaling a descent.
I peered over the edge of the bed slowly, resting my eyes on a card that came to rest on the ground just inside the door. Cautiously and so as not to wake up Roxy, I shuffled off the bed, picking up the card.
I hurried inside the bathroom, closing the door quietly before flicking on the light, my heart pounding. Was this something scandalous? A ransom note, maybe?
But as my eyes flickered over the card my heart began to pound.
‘Bea-’ the card read, embossed with gold letters.
‘Come to the beach tomorrow at midnight. Bring nothing and tell no one.’
Being one of the first to arrive usually meant you got your pick of rooms in the cabin. My second year at the conference I had been one of the first to arrive on the island just so I could score the biggest suite and room with my best friend. This time I had arrived early so I could score the single.
Apparently, life had other plans for me.
The door the cabin swung open with an eerie drone and the stifle in the air was nearly palpable. Several sets of eyes were immediately on me, most of them screwing up in disgust. I felt my stomach sink directly into the floor, my feet seemingly stuck where I was standing. I tried to make myself move- the get out from being the center of attention. But I couldn’t. Not with everybody staring.
“What the hell is she doing here?” Somebody muttered.
Instantly my eyes flew to the owner of the voice. Black baby doll bangs and electric eyes. Elesa.
“Takes guts to actually show up.” Someone else muttered.
My eyes drifted toward them- Candice.
“I’d have thought she’d have run off with him by now.”
I knew that voice, and I knew it well. It made my blood run cold, my legs beginning to shake with the effort of holding me up. Her perfect ponytail and her perfect makeup, all tied together with a perfect blood-curdling scowl that seemed the stare right through me. Roxanne.
I wanted to melt into the ground, to be swallowed up whole. I could feel them judging every single part of me. I didn’t want to be here anymore- to exist in a world where they did. I knew they would hate me but I didn’t think they’d be so open about it. It hurt so much worse than I had anticipated.
“You could be a little nicer.”
My eyes shot up as I recognized the honey-sweet voice of Jasmine. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail, her normal blue dress traded in for a shirt and shorts. But she still looked like her, right down the gentle smile that was on her face as she approached me. She stepped toward me slowly- as though I were a wounded and feral wild animal. It hurt, but I understood why. I could feel tears beginning to well up in my eyes- I probably looked ready to snap.
“It’s nice to see you, Bea.” She said, gripping my hand in both of hers.
I wanted to rip my hand away from hers, to warn her not to be nice to me or she, too, would become a sort of leper. But she was a big girl, and I was too grateful for the feeling of her warm and safe presence to care.
“Thanks,” I said softly, my voice shaky with betrayal.
“Do you need help with your bags?”
I could hear one of the girls scoff behind her, but pushed it out of my mind, almost able to feel my feet again. “No, I’m okay. I just need to know where to put them.” I said, looking around at the mostly-taken beds wearily.
The smile on her face faltered as she turned around, biting her lip. “There’s only one more open bed.” She said slowly. I watched as she gestured toward the corner of the room where Roxanne stood, hand on hip. My eyes landed on the empty bed next to hers inside the divided room, my heart sinking.
Roxanne must have noticed it too, her eyes going wide at Jasmine’s gesture. “No psyducking way.” She snapped, crossing her arms. “I am not sharing a room with her. I don’t care if it makes me seem like a child. I want nothing to do with her.”
“The feelings mutual.” I snapped back, a burst of anger flooding through me. I didn’t know why she hated me so much- I hadn’t hurt her personally. But then again, she had always been one to take things too seriously, so it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. It was just Roxy being Roxy.
“Ladies,” Jasmine said, her voice faltering.
“Nope, not psyducking doing it,” Roxy said, bending down to pick up a shirt that had fallen off the bed.
“Roxy, you kind of have to,” Candice said, her voice cautious. For half a second I thought she might have been defending me. But then she continued. “You can always just ignore her.” She said, smirking as she slid a glance in my direction.
“Besides,” Elesa chimed in, plopping down on the couch. “Think of how much fun it’ll be to watch her squirm when she finds out about-”
All eyes flew to Jasmine as she smacked the wall, her brows furrowed. “Are we twelve?” She asked, her voice brimming with disappointment.
I watched silently as Elesa shrugged, raising her eyebrow at me. When I find out about what? I wanted to goad her on, to keep digging. But Jasmine was right. This was ridiculous. We were all adults. Or mostly, anyway.
“Look, I don’t care. I’ll sleep on the couch.” I said, exasperated. Anything to make it end, really.
“No, no,” Jasmine said, ushering me toward Roxanne. “You’ll sleep in an actual bed and that’s final. Roxy will get over it like the adult she is and we’ll all be just fine, okay?”
I felt the hairs on my arms raise as I slid past Roxanne, her breath going harsh as she glared at me. I wanted to open my mouth and ask her what her problem was, but exhaustion was nipping at my heels and I knew Jasmine would never let it escalate that far. Not yet, anyway.
“I’m just going to lay down,” I mumbled quietly, knowing damn well they didn’t care.
It was only Jasmine who piped up, smiling as she nodded. “We were all about to head out to watch the rest of the arrivals, anyway. Why don’t you nap up and meet us for dinner later by the fire?”
She closed the door behind her before I could muster an answer, my body collapsing onto the bed. My eyes snapped shut, too exhausted to bother to cry despite the emotions brambling around inside of me. Maybe sleep would make everything better.
Sunlight filtered in through the blinds, casting shadows across the room. I heard Roxanne tossing about on the opposite side of the room, her blanket scratching against the stiff sheets as she tossed and turned from side to side. I was beginning to feel rather restless myself, the lack of shade from the island meaning an early rising for most.
With a sigh I hoisted myself out of bed, jerking back as my foot slipped on something. The sound of paper crinkling beneath my toes made me jump, my brain suddenly clicking into gear as I remembered the embossed note from the night before.
I bent down to pick it up quietly, my eyes wide as I watched Roxanne, careful not to wake her up. I slipped the card beneath my pillow, my heart hammering in my chest at the thought of what prospect it could hold.
It wasn’t until I was nearly to the bathroom that I heard Roxy sigh, throwing the blanket off of her with a groan. “Must we always be up so early.” She grumbled.
I stifled a laugh, knowing she would not appreciate me finding humor in her morning misery. I watched with amusement as she stumbled out of bed. It was always fun to watch her attempt to function in the morning- it was as though she were drunk. She could never properly find her pants nor her phone, and when she did she was always angry at a nightly text for some reason. Just one of the few things I loved about her, honestly.
“Next year we’re picking a room facing the other side of the island.” She said, stumbling past me and into the bathroom.
“I was going to use that!” I shouted, rolling my eyes as I sat down on her bed.
As I waited I couldn’t help but wonder if I should tell her about the note. It had said not to tell anybody, but anybody didn’t really mean your best friend, right? After all, one couldn’t give somebody a note like that and expect them to keep it entirely a secret. It was kind of like kissing someone and promising them you wouldn’t tell. There was always a hidden clause in there.
The door bounced open and Roxy slid out, water droplets rolling off of her face. She seemed slightly more awake now, her brow arching as she took me in. “You okay?”
Make it break it, Bea. To tell or not to tell.
“Some weird muk happened while you were asleep, Rox.”
Tell it was, I guess.
Immediately she scuddled to my side, plopping down beside me. “Divulge or else.” She demanded, suddenly awake.
A chuckle escaped my lips as I reached across the pathway and under my pillow, my hands gripping the card. With a deep breath I pulled it out, handing it to her. “Someone totally pushed this under our door last night. I don’t know what to make of it.”
Her eyes were scrutinizing as she read it over and over, her lips pursing as she thought. After a moment she handed the card back to me, narrowing her eyes. “What do you think it is?”
“I don’t know.” I said, shrugging.
Her brow dipped as she leaned in, her shoulder bumping mine vigorously. “What do you hope it is, then?” She pressed.
I frowned, knowing exactly what she meant but not wanting to egg her on. This was not the time. “Nothing like what you’re thinking, Rox.”
“It could be a confession though!” She said, cutting me off excitedly.
I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. She was a hopeless romantic at heart, and always had romance on the brain. She had spent the latter half of last years conference trying to get me to hook up with someone, and had promised me she would succeed this year. It was entertaining in the beginning, but we were adults, not teenagers. If I wanted to hook up with someone, I would.
“I’m pretty sure if a guy wanted to confess to me he wouldn’t do it like this.” I said, tossing the card onto my bed lamely.
“I dunno.” She said, shrugging. “You don’t see the way some of them look at you.”
“Uhuh.” I said, pushing myself off the bed and away from here. And we were off. I hated this spiel.
“I’m just saying you should give one of them a try.” She said, gathering her hair up into her hand.
“I’ll let you know when I decide to do that.” I said, brushing her off. “But for now, I’m just going to focus on this. And it said don’t tell anyone. So you better not gossip.”
By the time my eyes flitted open, the island was dark. The only light in the room was filtering in through beneath the door, lighting up the end of the bed in a haze. I rubbed my eyes slowly, pushing myself up and onto my elbows. I could feel the ache in my bones as they begged me to lay back down, but I knew I needed to get up or I’d never be able to sleep through the night.
A pang of hunger resounded through my stomach as I pushed myself toward the end of the bed, a sinking feeling taking over my body. Snacks. That’s what I forgot.
Despite the pounding in my head, I pulled myself to the balls of my feet, dragging myself over to where my bag sat on the desk chair. I pulled a sweater over myself gingerly, running a few fingers through my hair as I glanced in the mirror. I looked like a damn mess, but it would do. I wasn’t here to impress anyone. At least not anymore.
My muscles screamed in protest as I slid my shoes on, making my way toward the cabin entrance. The center light was illuminated dimly, everyone’s things haphazardly strewn about. They had no doubt come back to change for the dinner while I had been asleep- it looked like a prom night horror scene. Shirts, shoes, and makeup were scattered everywhere with no discernible beginning or end to anyone’s particular property. But that’s how it worked here- what’s yours was theirs and what was theirs was yours. We were all supposed to be like sisters, anyway. Or that’s what they said, I guess.
Flicking off the light behind me, I grabbed my keys and headed toward the beach, the fire already casting a light across the entire island. The wind was buffeting the waves around the shore, the sound of water crashing against the rocks roaring in the distance. I watched as small flickers of flame rose up and danced above the cabin lines, the wind no doubt helping keep it going.
It wasn’t until I came out from behind the cabins and saw the scene before me that my heart sank, my brain screaming at me to turn around and run- starve. I’d be fine.
There were probably a hundred people scattered around a giant bonfire- some standing around it, some sitting on the beach and some hanging by the picnic tables just on the outskirts of it. A few were tending to the fire itself- helped in hand by their Pokemon. It was a familiar site- one that made my heart ache.
As I drew closer my steps grew smaller, more cautious. Everyone’s attention was on something different, and I wanted to keep it that way. I shrunk toward the outskirts of the clearing, keeping toward the wooden posts with a giant rope threaded through the center that marked the outside of the battlegrounds for later on in the week.
I ran my hand along the rope, steadying myself. I could do this, right? Sure, everyone would notice me any minute and start hurling insults at me. Yeah, they might start a lynch mob or something. But then I could just grab a burger and run.
Or that had been the plan, anyway. At least until I felt myself collide with something else, a grunt leaving my body as the air was forced out of me. I felt myself falter with the impact, blinking as I steadied myself before looking up.
“Sorry I didn’t ev-”
Tears pushed at my eyes as I ducked away from him, clenching my jaw to hold myself together. I nearly sprinted in the opposite direction, clenching my fists at my sides and pressing my nails into the palms of my hands to keep myself distracted.
“Bea?” He said, his voice soft.
I knew I should have stopped, apologized or cried or done something. But I couldn’t. Not with everyone there and not like that. So I kept walking. Even when he called my name again, this time louder. And again. Even when some people turned to look at me, confusion and anger on their faces. Even when the crowd went silent, everyone starting to connect the dots to the name.
Instead, I kept walking, straight toward the food table. The air around me felt thin- too thin to breathe- but I couldn’t leave now. They would all see me and they would know. So I picked up a burger and took a bite, lifting my eyes to meet the crowd.
All I could see was malice, followed by some looks of confusion- no doubt from the newcomers who were wondering why we were all mad at me. I almost felt bad for them as I watched them turn to each other in questioning, then back to me.
I took another bite, sitting down on the backbench of the table, legs folded. They could stare all they wanted. I was here now. I might have been almost crying, sure. But I was there, and that counted for something, right?
Then- like the angel I always knew was- Brawly ran out into the center of the setting, megaphone in hand. “Alright friends.” He said, clearing his throat. “We’re going to get started on the entertainment aspect of our evening if you don’t mind.”
Slowly, heads started to turn back to face him, only one or two lingering on me. I knew who they were, and I could feel their stares boring into me. But I refused to acknowledge them. Not right now.