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  • 1,660
    Vera Hill
    Chapter 11 - Déjà Vu All Over Again
    Route 7; Sunday, June 2nd, afternoon

    Words hurt, sometimes. And some people have the uncanny ability to know which ones hurt the most.

    Did Gwen know that Vera was doubting how good of a friend she was? Did she know that she was trying to rebuild something with Arianne? Of course not, how could she? And yet... that's exactly what she'd said. "...ridiculous!" "Some fucking friend you are!"

    She doesn't even realize she'd started to cry until Ebony is in her face, gently wiping at her eyes with his hair. She reacts in annoyance, brushing him aside. "Wha- gah! Ebony, warn me before you get close to my eyes!"

    She glares, then lets out a breath as she fixes her hair, tucking a loose strand behind her ear. Ebony meant well, so she shouldn't take it out on him. "...thank you, I appreciate the sentiment, but I am not crying over something that girl said. She is not allowed to make me cry."

    Ebony just watches her with concern, but after a moment he gives her a small smile. It's adorable on him, really. Vera scoffs as she ruffles his hair, ignoring how her hands pass right through him. "Thanks, Ebony. I don't know what I'd do without you."

    An indignant squeak draws her attention down to the doll in her arms. "Of course, you too, Trixie. Look at you, how did your Disguise get in such a mess? They were just Taillow, you should have taken them easily. I bet you held back to make Talon feel better, didn't you?"

    Trixie mutters darkly, not happy to be reminded of her broken costume.

    "Don't be that way, let me try to fix it." Vera chuckles as she takes her hat off, placing it over Trixie. "Hey Ebony, watch see me pull a rabbit out of my hat."

    Without looking, she retrieves Trixie's damaged costume from within her hat, then swiftly places the hat back on her head, the little ghost still inside. She barely feels the weight, even less than Ebony, who hovers around almost jealously as another Pokémon rides on Vera's head. The hat twitches slightly, as apparently Trixie didn't find the joke funny.

    "Everyone's a critic. Tell you what, how about I learn some real magic, then I won't joke about it anymore. You two can be my assistants." Making light conversation and focusing on something tangible helps distance herself from everything that just happened. She'll process it all later, when she's ready. For now, Trixie's costume needs to be fixed. Again.

    "Honestly, I don't know how much more abuse this thing can take. It might be time to just throw it out."

    Trixie shakes the hat a bit in protest.

    "Don't argue, I'm not a miracle worker. You can't keep hiding in my hat, and I bought you a perfectly fine Pikachu plushie to use instead. Doesn't that sound nice?"

    A soft *hmph* is all she gets in reply. Vera frowns, some of her anger coming back.

    "You know I can't understand you, there's no point in being difficult. You don't like the plushie? Fine, I'll get rid of it. But I don't want to hear a single complaint about what I get you instead. Offer your opinion before or help me make it, you hear me?"

    There's a moment of silence before Trixie responds, but Vera chooses to hear a begrudging "yes" in there. She patches up the rag as best she can, holding it up to her hat and letting Trixie get dressed before pulling her back out. The rag is old, worn thin in places, and won't hold up to much stress, but it's still salvageable.

    Vera tries not to read too much symbolism into that.
  • 4,685
    • Age 30
    • Seen Jun 18, 2024

    • 11-2: Heart on Your Sleeve

      👤 Ft. Aquacorde as Casey Holt & Groc as Vera Hill🌾 Route 7 🕙 June 3rd, Morning

      "Can I keep this one?"


      "What about this?"

      "That's not mine." Jordan grabs the blouse from Jenna, stuffing it into the box they'd prepared for Vera's things.

      He thinks she's finally quiet for a moment, but apparently she's still just scheming to get something - anything - from him. "I kind of like the blazer, actually. I can do that oversized belted blazer look-"

      Jordan huffs, putting down the clothes to look at her. "Do we need to take you clothes-shopping?"


      "Well, Jon has money, go-"

      "I don't wanna sit in a hot truck all day!"

      "Then mom will-"

      "She doesn't let me buy what I want!"

      He's familiar with this little routine - she's not letting up until she gets what she wants. "You know what-" He rummages through the clothing pile and drops the coat she was wearing yesterday on her head. "Keep the blazer."

      She pulls the garment off her head, shaking out her bright red hair. A big smile is on her face now, and without another word, she skips back upstairs - presumably to find a belt to go with it. As her footsteps fade away, heavier ones replace them as someone else makes their way down. He looks up to see Jon getting ready to head out for work.

      "Are you leaving now? Can you drop us off at the post office?"

      "Sure. Help me load the truck first, boys."

      📮 Celadon Post Office 🕙 June 3rd, Morning

      It's not a long ride to the post office - they easily could have walked, but it's a welcome convenience considering all the stuff they have with them.

      "Think Vera will find it here okay?" They'd texted her earlier to let her know roughly when and where they would be, but there's no sign of her here yet.

      "Are you nervous?" Casey prods, both verbally and with his walking stick in Jordan's calf.

      "No." Jordan crosses his arms defensively, looking out the window as he pinches his sleeves. "...Yes, of course I'm nervous, I'm- maybe you shouldn't go, we can just, you know-"

      "Hang out as a group so I can distract her from your wistful little sighs with my boisterous charm? I can't turn this off, y'know, I think I'm stuck in flirt-mode since I been comin' onto your brother all morning." Casey's words are balanced by a quick squeeze of Jordan's hand- I understand, I am here, unfortunately I am also generally unable to stop running my mouth.

      Jordan sighs. "Yeah, okay, alright." He's too preoccupied to get into whatever he's saying about Jon now, but it is true Casey tends to command the most attention when he's around, for better or for worse. Usually, it's a welcome icebreaker or constant conversation-driver, but some things he maybe should tackle without him. "Hm. Maybe- has she texted back?" He quickly checks for new messages. "Has she texted you back?"

      "Don't see why she'd text just me when we did a group chat, but she also don't know how to work that phone- nah, nothin'."

      She may not have texted back, but soon enough they can see Vera making her way down the road toward them, a familiar purple ghost hovering nearby. Casey perceptibly wilts and slinks out of the window's view.

      "Hey, what are you- don't be weird, she could see-" Jordan scolds in a hushed tone even though Vera's not even indoors yet as he pulls him upright. Casey whines, something about other ghosts and don't like it, but it matters little. As she gets closer, Vera returns Ebony to his ball, probably so he and Casey don't have to see each other, and she stops to look at her phone again. She frowns slightly as she looks around, then starts typing.

      Soon, a new message appears in the group chat. I've arrived at the post office. I'll be waiting for you.

      "Should we- should we go outside? Or tell her to come in?" Jordan asks, clutching his phone. Casey sighs, shakes himself out with a few gentle smacks to his cheeks, and strides over to the door.

      "Vera! Already here!"

      Vera jumps in surprise, but composes herself rather quickly. "Oh! I didn't see you there. I thought you'd be outside…" She follows Casey inside, looking between the boys a little awkwardly. "So… good to see you two again."

      "Yeah. Uh, this box is yours." Casey slides it across the floor with his foot, despite said box being about a metre in all directions. "D'you want anything out'f it before we send it off?"

      "Oh. Uh, let me just check what's inside." Vera opens the box, looking at the clothes inside. "Oh. I forgot about these." She sorts through the box, passing over most of the fancier options and specifically grabbing the soft pajamas, the white Fall Casual blouse, and, after a moment of thought, the nightcaps for both herself and Trixie.

      "Right, good, okay- you, uh, you two chat or whatever while I start on this." Casey picks up Vera's box and nudges his own toward the counter and the bored postal worker- only hindered by a realization and a quick rifle through his box for a grumpy Buneary.

      He'd put away all his Pokemon prior so he would have fewer things to worry about, but Jordan kind of wishes he has at least Tangles or someone with him now to hold on to. On the plus side, there are absolutely no distractions in communication between them now, so things should go more smoothly.

      Casual. Be casual.

      "Hey," He starts with an awkward wave. He wanted to ask her 'what have you been up to', and also 'how are you', but both questions fight to leave his mouth at the same time and they blend together, coming out as a rather confusing "How are you been up to?"

      "Uh…" Vera's head tilts slightly at his question, but she looks away when they briefly make eye contact. "Fine, I guess. Just glad to be out of the city, you know?"

      "Yeah, I feel that," Jordan nods. "But Celadon will be a bit more your speed, hopefully. Oh! Yeah, you came here with Ari, right, how was that?" Of course he doesn't wish she had a bad time and there's nothing wrong with her branching out and connecting with her other friends, but he does kind of hope it wasn't… as fun as hanging out with him and Casey is so they could travel together more.

      Vera crosses her arms, scowling. "She invited a friend and we didn't get along. I don't think she's taking our friendship seriously."

      "Oh," He hopes he doesn't sound too relieved, following it up quickly with: "I'm sorry to hear that. But, you know, you'll always have us!" He lets out a laugh, more out of nerves than anything else, and nudges her lightly. "You'll always have me."

      Vera's scowl softens at Jordan's words, but he feels her tense slightly when he nudges her. "Ha, yeah, I guess that's true, huh?" Her own nervous laugh matches his from a moment ago. "I probably should have just gone with you guys, we probably would have had fun on the road. Just like old times, right? Having adventures and getting into all sorts of… trouble. Just… just the three of us!"

      Her smile seems genuine, although her face is getting red the more she talks. She lowers her head, breaking eye contact and hiding behind the brim of her hat. "I'm saying a lot, how was your guys' trip here? Do anything cool?"

      Jordan beams back down at her, even though she's no longer looking and her face is obscured. His heart is still fluttering, but the more she talks, the more at ease he starts to feel. "Um, not really - the walk was fairly uneventful, but we stayed at my family's and I got to see them again, so that was nice. Hm. Kind of nice. Siblings, you know? Heh. Oh, speaking of, they did get into some of our clothes before we got there - think my little brother was wearing Trixie's hat, sorry about that. Uh," He shakes his head. It was his turn to ramble now, apparently. But he stops himself and diverts back to his more important point. "But yeah, old times! I'd- we'd like that for the next route or whatever. I like us." He says simply.

      Vera slowly leans over, resting her shoulder against Jordan's. "I like us too."

      He puts his head against hers and they stay like that quietly for a moment, all of his apprehension from the night before gone now. He supposes he was so nervous because he felt the need to define the relationship by… something. Maybe it was spurred on by the conversation he had with Casey, maybe it's just what he thinks people do. But they seem to have reached an understanding of their relationship now, whatever it is, and it's comfortable. It feels right.

      And that, he ultimately decides, is enough for now.

      A clearing of a throat announces Casey's presence, slipping his phone back into his pocket- not that he was ever particularly far away, flirting with the postal worker across the little lobby- but now he shuffles in place, hands worrying the cuffs of opposite sleeves. "Uh, Vera, I need your address- don't know where to send this to…"

      Vera quickly pushes herself off of Jordan, pretending to have been looking at a nearby wall of post office boxes. "Oh, right! Of course, yeah. Let me just get that real quick." She brushes past Casey and over to the thoroughly nonplussed postal worker, busying herself with paperwork. Casey tilts his head curiously to the side.

      Jordan giddily gives him a thumbs up. "That went well, I think." He breathes.

      "Seems like!" Casey beams at him, voice at a level that counts as hushed for him. "Should I like, make some excuse about paperwork and let y'all go ahead or-?"

      "Nah!" Jordan throws his arm over Casey's shoulder. "It's still the three of us. Not, like, in a weird way, but, y'know. Appreciate it, though."

      Casey knocks his head into Jordan's, not nearly as gentle as Vera but not enough to truly hurt. "It could be weird," he says, not entirely stifling a giggle that breaks the play at seriousness. Jordan rolls his eyes and sticks a hand between their heads to push Casey away.

      "Yeah, yeah. Maybe a conversation for another time." Vera comes back over, looking both amused and baffled by them. "So! What should our official plans for the rest of the day be, as a newly-reunited trio?"

      "Well, what's in Celadon, Celadon boy? I ain't been here. A gym, that's all I know. Should we go see the gym right away so we can just hang out?" Ginger, on Casey's shoulder, seems to perk up at the idea of "gym".

      "That's an option. We could also look for any little shops, like we usually do. Isn't Celadon the shopping central of Kanto?" Vera idly touches one of Ginger's ears, wisely pulling away before the rabbit has a chance to retaliate.

      Casey snuffs out Ginger's low growl with a hand in her face, which she immediately gnaws on and he ignores. "Artisanal capitol, I think they been sayin'. Still got that big ol' department store though, don't they?"

      "Sure do!" Jordan bobs his head. "But yeah, lots of artisanal stuff in the farmer's market - well, there's not really a the farmer's market, I guess-" His words hang in the air for a moment as he mentally plots out a route that doesn't involve walking past mom's flower shop, mostly so he won't be roped into taking Jenna with them. It's summer and she's usually there when school's out. "Uh, anyway, definitely lots of stuff to browse, between those and the department store, if we wanna do a little shopping before seeing Erika."

      "Farmer's markets have a bunch of fun little snacks, right? I want fun little snacks." Casey decides.

      "Yeah! Let's do it." They won't even have to eat lunch - usually Jordan can just walk around and fill up on samples and stuff.

      "Shopping and snacking." Vera shakes her head as she laughs and puts a hand on each of their shoulders. "I've missed you guys. Let's go!"

    • Party


      Tangela | F | Lvl. 33

      Vine Whip
      Sleep Powder
      Poison Powder


      Pidgeotto | M | Lvl. 31

      Mirror Move
      Wing Attack


      Alolan Cubone | M | Lvl. 29

      Focus Energy
      Feint Attack
      Bone Club
      Swords Dance


      Skiddo | F | Lvl. 28

      Vine Whip
      Razor Leaf
      Leech Seed


      Pumpkaboo | F | Lvl. 26

      Razor Leaf
      Shadow Sneak
      Confuse Ray
      Scary Face
      Worry Seed

      ??? | ? | Lvl. -

      It appears to move occasionally. It may be close to hatching.​
    • Inventory

      - Pokédex
      - Pokégear
      - 2-person tent
      - Tangles' plant

      Moon Stone​

    Last edited:


  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Five Stars Club, Saffron City, May 29th, Afternoon


    Chapter 10 - 11
    Lost Pokemon
    Part 1

    "...Man, that was tough," Keith grumbled after receiving a loss in his fourth battle of the day. "Wanna go home now? I think my brain is out of juice," he spoke loudly, making sure that his friends who were unwinding after their respective battling sessions were able to hear his voice despite the loudness of the venue.

    "I'm not going to lie, I kinda want to stay here. Although I think rest is in order for us, how about you Richard?" Lizzie spoke.

    "I don't know, I'm not sure. But I know that I want to get out of here for a bit, it's just too loud for my liking."

    Celia nodded while cradling the sleeping Madeleine in her arms. With her response, it was a unanimous decision to at least get some fresh air for now.

    "Fine, let's get some rest and then decide what we want to do after," Keith said.

    The four of them went straight to the door, but as they walked, Richard noticed something that attracted his eyes. Lizzie who was walking behind the rest of them silently argued with her brother with gestures, indicating that there was something need to be said between the two of them.

    "Hey," Richard tapped his friend's shoulder, making her turn her head instantly in shock. "S-sorry, I didn't mean to surprise you, but if you have something to say to Graham, why don't you stay here for a bit?"

    Lizzie's gaze shifted between Richard and his brother until she deeply sighed, making her decision. "If you don't mind, can I?"

    "No I don't mind, and I'm sure the others don't either. We'll tell you where you should go once we found a place to rest."

    "Thanks, sorry to bother you guys like this." Celia bowed her head apologetically.

    "Oh come on, it's nothing. Now go, your brother waits for you."

    Lizzie nodded and went to his brother, strangely with a serious look on her face.

    Richard couldn't lie, the fact that Lizzie had that kind of expression as she approached her own brother piqued his interest. But alas, he knew well that it was impolite to eavesdrop on their conversation. Besides, it wasn't like he could approach Graham comfortably either as their relationship was fractured a long time ago.

    He would love to fix the bridge between him and the guy he once considered a close friend, but he needed more time to prepare himself which meant that he prefer to not do it, at least not now.

    As the girl with a long-sleeved white blouse with a black flower pattern printed on top slowly walked toward his brother due to wearing heels, Richard hurried toward the exit where both Celia and Keith were waiting, puzzled why it took so long for him to come out. After explaining the current situation to them, they stopped by the nearest convenience store where they could unwind at the store's seating area.

    There was nothing quite like sitting under a shaded area with refreshments in hand, and as the group enjoyed each others' company while waiting for Lizzie to return, the day was looking very promising. They had fun and nothing out of ordinary seemed to happen– Until it did.

    While talking about Celia's future plan to enroll in Cape, one curious sight distracted them from the conversation they were having. A man in a black hoodie and red jeans seemed to be restlessly scouting around the area as if he was looking for something.

    "Hey, Richard!" Keith bobbed his head in the hooded man's direction.

    "You don't have to tell me twice." Richard and Keith both raised themselves from their seat, while Celia followed behind them.

    "Sorry to disturb you, Sir. But you seem to be in trouble, may I help you with something?" Said Richard, approaching the man politely.

    "Oh no, don't worry I don't mind. Hey um, by any chance did you see a Pokeball around here?"

    "No, unfortunately not."

    "Ah, damn it! Where could her Pokeball be… I swore it was properly attached to my belt," the man yelled at himself while holding the side of his head.

    Keith had a bad feeling about where this was going, so he asked his friend for his opinion. "Richard, this is…" Keith murmured to Richard.

    "Most likely, yeah. Can you take away Celia for a sec? I don't want her to be involved in this mess."

    "Why? Let her learn. The world's ain't just sunshine and rainbows, you gotta let her learn how bad things can be firsthand." Keith said, loud enough for everyone else to hear.

    Richard had mixed feelings about Keith's suggestion, and he wasn't too shy to convey it through his frowned eyebrows. On one side, he didn't want Celia to be involved with whatever this was, especially considering the suspicion conveyed in the message he received that the people who had sent him and Uri both to emergency care might be linked to whoever was behind this. But on the other hand, how would she know what was dangerous and not if she didn't experience it for herself? Wasn't it the right time to teach her that, since he and Keith were there? In the end, he chose the latter.

    "Um, if you all may, I would like to continue searching for my Pokeball," the man said, cutting through the silence caused by Richard's pondering.

    "Oh! Sorry. But may I suggest that you search directly for your Pokemon instead of the Pokeball that contains it?"

    Richard's suggestion raised the man's eyebrow.

    "No, as I said, it was her Pokeball that I lost. My Lilligant was still inside her Pokeball," said the hooded man, trying to reiterate his point to Keith and Richard who he presumed doesn't understand what he had said the first time.

    "Most likely, not anymore," Keith said, his eyes gazing downward.

    The man narrowed his eyes at Keith's comment. "What do you mean not anymore?"

    Richard and Keith looked at each other before nodding. They proceeded to tell the man that he lost his Pokeball not because of his fault, but chances are, it was caused by something more sinister than he thought.
    Last edited:


  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Saffron City, May 29th, Evening


    Chapter 10 - 12
    Lost Pokemon
    Part 2

    "Hang on tight, sweetie. We'll get you home to your trainer, I promise," Richard spoke with a warm smile plastered on his face to the beautiful humanoid Pokemon sitting on the back seat of the bicycle.

    She nodded with a smile painted on her face as she tightly hugged the blonde-haired teen, seemingly happy that someone came to her rescue.

    As the bright orange sky bathed those who were cutting through the busy Saffron traffic riding on the bicycle in its warm and relaxing light, Eileen, Maddie, and Sharon cheered loudly for their Trainer as winds swiftly swept by their bodies who were sitting inside the front basket. Richard who barely broke a sweat despite pedaling as fast as he could to propel his aunt's white-framed bicycle couldn't help but think about how all of this came to be.

    Finding Lilligant admittedly wasn't a very hard task, mostly because of her trainer, Jerry's story of how his Lilligant loved to loiter in areas with a lot of flowers surrounding them. With that information in hand, Richard had split the task of scouring the area with Jerry, Keith who brought Celia along with him, and Lizzie who just arrived shortly before the end of their conversation with Jerry as she ran as fast as she could to the convenience store despite wearing black heels at the time.

    The splitting of work made everything much easier, especially when Richard managed to borrow his aunt's bicycle to ease up his work. With three of his smallest team members, cramping up the space on the front basket of their own volition, acting as additional lookouts, it was only a matter of time before they found the lost Pokemon. She was gracefully sitting down on a tree trunk located in a park in Southern Saffron, surrounded by few other Pokemon most likely because of the sweet smell she emitted from the flower on her head.

    But that wasn't the end of the issue for Richard, as Lilligant was wary of him as he tried reaching out to her, which was made evident by the grimace painted on her dainty face and her shivering body as soon as Richard approached. The clues made Richard further believe that this had something to do with the Pokemon Liberation Group, after all despite the chance that Lilligant was shy from the start, the lack of Pokeball in the vicinity as he found her was pretty damning evidence that they were responsible for Lilligant's disappearance in the first place, especially after Jerry told him that she was supposed to be inside her Pokeball.

    Lilligant's wariness also caused another problem for Richard and his team as the Pokemon surrounding her hissed at him as they perceived him as a threat, a conflict seemed to be unavoidable as his own Pokemon prepared themselves for battle. Thankfully, it ended up not happening, all thanks to Keith's ingenuity.

    Knowing that there was no guarantee that Lilligant would follow them willingly as she would have no idea that they were there to help her trainer, Keith brought up the brilliant idea to save the picture on their communication device to help coax the Pokemon to come with anyone who found them. Thanks to that, as soon as Richard projected the picture, Lilligant who once seemed ready to flee at any moment instead tugged his beige trousers desperately, asking him to reunite her and Jerry.

    "Excuse me, coming through!" Richard rang the bell of his bicycle as needed, warning the pedestrians that a bicycle was barreling through the road. He did so with a huge smile on his face, not only because he was happy that he found the missing Lilligant but because the ride reminded him of the simpler times he had when he could play around with both Keith and Lizzie with little to no care about what was happening outside their little world. Best time he had ever experienced in life, yet also a time he could never relive no matter how much he had yearned to live through it once more.

    Richard couldn't help but notice that a lot of places he recognized from his childhood were changing as the town grew. Even if it's only several years since his last visit, several shops in the area had turned into different establishments or stop functioning as a shop altogether, even one of the local toy shops where his parents bought him his beloved Jigglypuff plushie that he eventually passed down to Celia was no more. Time had changed so many things, and that sight reminded the boy of that fact.

    Thankfully the roads were still recognizable enough for the young man in the blue cardigan who once traveled along the area with his two friends in his childhood, helping him to choose the fastest route to reach the convenience store where Jerry and his friends were waiting. There, Lilligant didn't waste any time dismounting from the white bicycle before running to hug her trainer who was relieved by her return.

    Jerry was thrilled to see his Pokemon and didn't waste any time lifting her toward the sky, something that the Lilligant seemed to love as she let out a happy squeal as her trainer did so. However, Jerry's expression soon turned into a serious one as he asked Richard a question.

    "So, is it true?"

    "There's no way to prove it, but she was out of her Pokeball that was nowhere to be found, so I think that is the case."

    Jerry exhaled, putting his right hand behind his head as he shook the latter in disbelief. "Man, I thought you kids were just pulling my legs, but it seemed that you were right. But, If I can get my Pokeball stolen, so do the four of you, so take care alright?" He said while crouching down, stroking his Lilligant's head.

    "Now for the rewards, um… Honestly, I'm a bit on the red at this point, so…" Jerry scratched his neck, clearly looking embarrassed.

    Richard never expected a reward since the very beginning. Leaving someone in distress without even trying to help was against everything he stood for, so it was only natural for him to help Jerry even if it meant that he couldn't battle as much as he wanted. After all, he could come to the club the next day, but the thought of Jerry losing his Lilligant because he didn't help with the search was a bit too much for Richard to think about, even if he was a stranger that he just met.

    After all, the dreadful fear of losing your Pokemon was something that Richard had experienced with Uri, he could never imagine how would he continue his life if Uri was gone forever because of his negligence. So a reward was never something Richard expected, but as he was about to tell Jerry not to bother with it, Lizzie and Keith spoke up.

    "Ah don't worry, we didn't do much. So if it's possible, just give Richard the reward," Lizzie spoke up.

    "Nah, lying isn't good Lizzie, we didn't do jack shit," Keith giggled in jest. "But yeah I agree, if anyone deserves the reward, it's Richard."

    "Guys!" Richard looked at his friends, exasperated. It didn't feel right for him to receive any reward while his friends didn't.

    "You know what, you seem to have a Pikachu, eh? I think I might have a good item for you," Jerry put his hand inside the black backpack he carried, before pulling it out with a disc tightly grasped. It was a TM for an electric type move indicated by its yellow color.

    "This is?"

    "Electric Terrain, works very well for electric Pokemon to boost their electric-type move. Also can prevent your Pokemon from falling asleep if they're inside the area of effect, hope it'll help one way or another." He passed the TM to Richard, who didn't waste any time bowing in gratitude.

    "Thank you, I really appreciate it."

    "Hey if you have some time, make sure to watch me on the Tomorrow Cup, alright? Who knows if by some miracle I'll be able to grind out my way into the finals? Anyhow, take care kids!" Jerry walked away, waving his left hand as his right hand tightly grasping her Lilligant's hand as if to prevent her from missing from his sight once again.

    As the sight of Jerry blended with the city's other inhabitants, disappearing from their observation. Lizzie decided it was the right time to tell Richard what she wanted to say.

    "You know, I was pondering whether it's the right time to tell you, but Graham wants to talk with you."

    "Graham? Really?" Richard raised his voice in disbelief, but it didn't take a long time for him to remember that it might not be such a far-fetched of an idea as he initially thought it was, as he remembered that Graham did try to initiate a conversation with him back at the Five Stars Club. But for what? What could possibly be discussed between them?

    "Richard… I know it's hard for you to forgive him, but can you at least meet him, please?" Said Lizzie while clasping Richard's right hand with both of her hands, begging for him to accept his brother's request.

    Hearing his friend's earnest plea, Richard couldn't help but let out a deep sigh.

    "I don't hold a grudge against him, if anything I deserved to get beaten down by him, heck if he did the same thing I did to you against Celia, I would've–" He would've done worse, that's what he was going to say. But as he shifted his view toward Celia, he was barely able to hold his tongue before he managed to finish his sentence. "–You know what, I'll bite. Keith, can you take Celia home, please?"

    "NO! I'M COMING WITH YOU!" Celia screamed while tugging hard at Richard's dark blue cardigan, her eyes dilated, her breathing was heavy, she was clearly stricken by fear. But how could she not? Bitter memories of seeing Richard getting constantly admitted to the hospital with fresh blood flowing from his numerous scars as he used violence to solve his problems were burned into her mind like it had happened yesterday.

    Celia had lost the cheerful, warm, and lovable big brother figure once, and she would do anything in her power to not lose him the second time.

    Understanding Celia's fear, Richard pulled the young girl with the white blouse and black knee-length skirt for a warm embrace. "Don't worry, I'm not going to do something stupid." He said, as he gently stroked Celia who buried her head deep in his chest, trying hard to hold back her tears.

    After a while, Richard managed to convince Celia that he'd be fine and had Keith escort her home with his aunt's bicycle to rest for the evening. As for him, he decided to have a face-to-face talk with the one person he once held dear to his heart.

    No, that's wrong. He still held Graham dear to his heart. But at the same time, he'd rather leave Graham be rather than to remind him of the person who had reciprocated his kindness by indirectly causing his sister to almost die in a traffic accident. Yet if Graham really wanted to meet him, then who was he to deny his wishes?

    After all, Richard wouldn't run this time as he was sick of constantly running away from his past. He was not the same boy he used to be, and so it was time for him to move forward in life, one step at a time.
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Saffron City, May 29th, Evening


    Chapter 10 - 13
    Untangling the Messy Past
    Part 2

    Richard couldn't help but to continuously tap his finger on the wooden table of the traditional food stall also known as yatai. As the dusk started to set in, the atmosphere near the river bank where the yatai had opened shop was tranquil and calm unlike the main streets during the bustling afternoon as most of the people dressed in black and white are coming home to their humble abode, resting their mind and soul so they could work another day. In several cases, however, some decided that downing bottles of alcohol are the best way to heal their spirit, and these food stalls are one of the places they choose to down their sorrows.

    In Richard's case, however, drowning his sorrows was not the reason he was in that place, rather he was there to entertain the invitation of a certain someone who was downing shots of alcohol beside him.

    "You're anxious?" Asked Graham his amber eyes shining brightly like his sparkling white teeth as he grinned ear-to-ear.

    "Do you even need to ask to know about that?"

    "Haha, well… I don't know what else to ask, so," Graham shrugged his shoulders with a smile on his face, ever-lasting.

    Richard couldn't help but let out a huge sigh. Despite the passing of time, Graham didn't change one bit. The slicked-back blonde hair that he had put on ever since Lizzie praised him about it five years ago, the green jacket and oversized cargo pants, and as he saw just a moment earlier, his smile, bright as a sun was as Richard remembered it was since he first met the man in green. It was almost like Graham was stuck in a time capsule of some sort.

    "You didn't change a lot, do you?" Richard asked with a weak voice.

    "Do you hate it?"

    Richard shook his head for a moment before he turned his gaze toward his black sneakers. "I honestly don't know." He stuttered, feeling conflicted about his feelings.

    On one side, Richard felt happy that he was having dinner again with Graham, especially since the place they were sitting on was the very same food cart Graham used to treat the Three Little Ducklett when they did something good or had a great test result at school. And by Three Little Ducklett, it was the endearing term Graham used to call Richard, Keith, and Lizzie when they all used to play around together.

    But even as great memories between them flooded Richard's mind, Graham's unchanging look also reminded him of the very day he was beaten black and blue as Graham screamed the word "Why Lizzie?" again and again as her sister was struggling for her life on the emergency room of Saffron Central Hospital. It wasn't a pleasant memory in the slightest for either of them, which made Graham's request to have dinner with him baffling, to say the least.

    "Well, the food is here. So eat a lot, ey?"

    Richard slightly nodded and didn't waste any time slurping the ramen presented in front of him. Neither Richard nor Graham spoke with each other during their dinner, unlike the grumpy pair of office workers sitting next to them with their unkempt suits and dark circles under their eyes, the noise from their complaints about their boss was almost the only audible thing filling the air until the time both Richard and Graham left the restaurant.

    As Graham walked in front of him while whistling an old ballad song, Richard couldn't help but to start huffing deeply as they walked through the financial district, lights bathing the pair from the multiple billboards littering the area advertising all sorts of things from alcoholic beverages to the newest movies airing in nearby cinema. Having dinner with Graham wasn't the main reason he accepted the older man's invitation.

    "I still have some free time if you really want to talk," Richard spoke loudly, stopping Graham in his tracks.

    Graham looked back with his eyes opened wide, but the flat line on his mouth soon arched upward as he understood Richard's intention. "...Really? Won't Aunt Melissa be mad if you stay out late?"

    "I've told her that I went out for a dinner with you, so there shouldn't be much problem."

    "I'll take you on your offer then, but I think if we're going to have a talk, I suppose a change of scenery is also in order."

    The pair walked once more, turning back toward the area they ate at earlier. However, this time Graham whistled a more upbeat song this time as he walked next to Richard toward their destination. They eventually walked down certain stone steps, reaching the place that's dear to the both of them.

    White lights shining down from the nearby streetlamps illuminated the area, allowing the pair to gaze upon the white petals of the Cherry Blossoms growing along the side of the riverbank, as they bloomed beautifully like billowing white clouds. As the sweet smell from the trees wafted through the air and the gentle flow of the river filled the silence between the two, Richard couldn't help but feel nostalgic seeing the riverbank where he used to play with both Graham and his friends.

    Instead of talking to Richard, Graham grabbed a round stone from one of the gardens the city council installed to decorate the riverbank, "Dang, I'm rusty as hell," Said Graham rubbing the back of his head as he watched the stone he threw didn't manage to hop more than two times against the water's surface before sinking.

    Richard grabbed a round enough stone himself and tried his luck, and much to Graham's surprise managed to make the stone gracefully bounce eight times before drowning under the flowing river filled with white petals after traveling more than thrice the distance compared to Graham's attempt, "Yeah, I'd have to agree on that," Richard said with a smile on his face.

    Both of them let out a small giggle, but soon silence took over between them once more until Graham hung his head down as he started to open his mouth.

    "Hey, I'm sorry, so, so, sorry… I should've thought more before I hurt you that day," lamented Graham, smiling bitterly.

    "Don't be… I honestly don't mind. I deserved that, you did nothing wrong. I would've done the same thing in your shoes."

    "But if I had ever asked Liz what's actually the reason behind the rift between her and you, I would've…"

    "Do you think Liz would've told you the full story? Please, Graham, she wouldn't. Otherwise, she would've stayed by me and Keith instead of following my schoolmates in alienating us two." Richard interjected calmly. "And you know what? Honestly, despite my feelings back then, I think she should've stayed with them she wouldn't be suffering so much otherwise."

    Graham took a deep breath in response to Richard's confession, his right hand trembled as he balled his hand as strongly as he could.

    "She cried a lot you know. Every single night she cried alone under the darkness of her own room. She wailed again and again about her own helplessness, blaming herself for what had happened to the both of you, especially you, Richard. After all, if you hadn't intervened when she was bullied, you wouldn't even be touched by those scumbags."

    There was not a single lie laced in Graham's statement, the main reason Richard became the main target for the bullies was that he stood up against them because Lizzie was being bullied, which made the betrayal Lizzie did to the two as she left the pair to fend for themselves even more bitter as she safely integrated herself to the group where she couldn't be bullied while the two especially Richard had to endure hardship.

    What Graham had said before explaining Lizzie's lament made everything makes much more sense to Richard. He remembered that one day Lizzie asked him to forgive her but Richard was filled with so much anger and resentment about the betrayal she did despite being one of his best friends for years, that he straight up laughed in her face before shoving her away, leaving her alone with no one to rely on.

    With the bullies she initially sided with realizing that she was trying to ditch them for Richard's side again, they turned their focus to her, bullying her instead because she was much easier prey. Not even one week had passed and that day when Richard started to regret everything had arrived.

    It was a Wednesday afternoon, just shortly after history class. Richard walked over to Lizzie's desk, filled with pencil dust and engravings of hurtful words made by the bullies who had just soaked her textbook with tea five minutes ago while the class was in session. Not even the teacher cared about what she had gone through… No, it's more like they couldn't, as they're likely to be replaced or fired unceremoniously should they report the bullying done by the children of the influential people of Saffron.

    Ignoring Lizzie's hollow eyes and plea as soon as he arrived, the blonde boy with buzz-cut hair quickly told her to just kill herself. Belonging to nowhere, and loved by no one, the single sentence Richard uttered was all it took for her to bolt out from the school leading to her accident.

    "Did Liz tell you about that?" Richard asked, his head gazing downward at the white petals flowing down the river due to shame.

    "I've heard it from your old homeroom teacher."

    "Miss Tia?"

    "She was also regretful for the things she couldn't do, I heard she resigned shortly after your suicide attempt and move out of town due to her guilty conscience."

    Letitia Gardner. Not only that she acted as his homeroom teacher, but she was also a math teacher for the school Richard enrolled in before Cape. She was famous for her auburn hair and rosy cheeks, attracting a lot of crushes from the youthful students due to her beauty and kindness. She was one of the people Richard looked up to due to how reliable she was, but not even she could do a lot to ease his pain. Furthermore, she wasn't exactly guiltless in the grand scheme of things.

    "I see."

    "You know when I heard that you tried to drown yourself in the Emerald Pond, I realized too late how shitty of a person I was. I always prided myself on the fact that I was a proper big brother figure for the kids who frequented the Five Stars Club, but what a fool I was, I couldn't protect those who were the closest ones to me, I couldn't protect you, I couldn't protect Keith, I couldn't protect my own sister, I–" Graham couldn't finish the words he was trying to convey as he was choking back tears thinking about the mistakes he did.

    "Oh come on, Graham. It's fine–" Richard softly spoke, tears gently flowing down his cheeks. "–Hey look, I… I'm sorry too, I should've reached out to you more instead of having me and Keith handling everything on our own, maybe I wouldn't have to resort to violence. But you know, things happened already, it's too late for regrets." Richard took a deep breath.

    "I… We can't rewind time, no one has that kind of power. So you know… Rather than linger on that, I'd rather make more good memories and let bygones be bygones," Richard hugged Graham tightly, trying his best to console the latter while at the same time trying to suppress his emotions from completely demolishing the dam of tears he could barely keep standing.

    A few minutes passed as Graham was finally able to compose himself and removed his head from Richard's chest with his eyes slightly reddish in the aftermath of his cry.

    "You sure you're not a time traveler? It's surprising to see you spouting deep sounding stuff," Graham spoke in jest while wiping off the remaining tears from his eyes.

    "Heh, you should've taken a look at yourself in the mirror. If you swapped yourself from three years ago with your current self, not even I could tell any difference between them.

    "So you mean I still look as handsome as three years ago?" The man in green put both of his forefingers on both sides of his cheeks, trying to act cutesy.

    "Ugh, I'm sorry but even for me, that's quite the push don't you think?" Richard shook his head with a huge smile plastered on his face.

    Both of them continued to joke with each other before eventually deciding to go home. This time Graham put his arm over Richard's shoulder as he merrily sang several happy songs in his repertoire disregarding any confused gaze given by the bystanders as he did so. After not even getting staggered in the slightest in the aftermath of drinking a few shots of rice wine, he finally acted like a jolly drunk.

    Richard was embarrassed watching Graham's antics, but seeing him smiling even brighter than the beautiful moon hanging above them, it was worth it for him to fight against the part of himself that was nervous to have a talk with Graham once more. The last two days had been magical for him, the smiles plastered on his loved ones as he spent some time with them were something he wouldn't trade even for the world.

    Looking back, it wasn't something he would've done had he not embarked on this journey. Without the journey, he wouldn't meet Lizzie once more, he wouldn't have the bravery to talk to her about her lost memories, he wouldn't dare to meet both Celia and Aunt Melissa, and he wouldn't be able to ease Graham's guilt.

    With bravery and determination, he swore to himself that he would take another step forward. And tomorrow wouldn't be an exception in the slightest.
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Saffron City, May 30th, Morning


    Chapter 10 - 14
    Untangling the Messy Past
    Part 3

    "Hello, anybody home?" As the words parted the lips of Richard under the warm embrace of the morning sun, he couldn't help but feel slightly worried as no one was answering his call even despite his third time knocking on the sleek black door in front of him. There seemed to be no signs of anyone inside the white modern-looking house despite the fact that the black fences were not locked signaling that there should be someone inside.

    "You sure he told you to come right now?" Keith held the side of his black and orange baseball cap as he asked Richard.

    "Oh come on, Keith. I've checked Graham's message more than twice, I'm not dumb."

    "I'm just saying, but maybe you should check the message you received again just in case?"

    "Fine," Richard huffed before reluctantly checking his communication device once more, but before he could, the said man that had invited them opened the door for the two.

    "Ah Richard, Keith. Welcome, sorry that I asked you to come on such short notice," said Graham, his hair was messy and wet most likely because he just got out of the shower.

    "No, no, it's okay, we couldn't exactly leave Lizzie alone when she's sick."

    How surprised Richard was when he found himself invited by Keith to a chat group with Graham inside it. It was certainly unexpected, more so because it happened really early in the morning. The surprise didn't end there as Graham didn't waste any time telling Richard how Lizzie would not be able to make it to their training session that day due to having a fever, furthermore, he asked the two to keep an eye on Lizzie if possible, as everyone else in the family including Graham himself had jobs to do. Richard and Keith agreed without any fuss in the slightest.

    As Richard stepped his foot inside the house, he quickly realized that the house where he, Lizzie, and Keith mostly hang out at didn't change much or even at all. The modern yet warm, white-colored living room was so well-furnished that it looked like something out of a housing catalog, which would not surprise Richard in the slightest due to knowing that Lizzie's father worked as an interior designer. The cluttered papers including several room plans laying around the dining table seemed to indicate that he still had the same job after several years had passed.

    "Anyway, you two can make yourselves at home. Sorry, I can't be here for even a bit longer, the guys needed me back in the club in the preparation for tomorrow, so… you know… Shoot! I'm late already! Uh, take care alright!" Graham rushed out of his home after hastily combing his hair, leaving Richard and Keith alone inside the deceivingly spacious house.

    "So, should we check on her now?" Richard asked his hooded friend.

    "I mean why else did we come here? Let's go."

    After stepping their way through the modern wooden staircase with glass railings, it didn't take long for them to arrive in front of a fancy-looking white door that was a stark contrast compared to the wooden nameplate hanging in front of the said door. It looked so haphazardly made, that it looked like a children's art project which it actually was.

    Back then Richard and Keith had to forcefully step in to help her finish that work of art as she was too stubborn to accept any help despite soldiering on with tears flowing down her dainty face. It was clearly a precious thing for her to be left hanging despite the shoddy quality or perhaps was until that important memory got fully eroded after her accident.

    Despite feeling slightly sorrowful as he saw the object that was proof that they once were so close they used to hang out with each other almost every single day, Richard swiftly moved his attention toward the situation at hand.

    "Liz." Richard gently knocked on the door thrice, and thankfully unlike earlier, it didn't even take a minute for him to get the door opened.

    "Graham, didn't you tell me that you're going to the–" Lizzie froze as she saw the ones standing on the other side of the door. Unlike her usual simple but chic look, the girl opened the door clad in her pink pajamas with Bunneary pattern printed on top and disheveled hair so messy that it wouldn't be surprising if it was a result of a passing tornado. She looked at her two friends waving at her with a blank stare and a pale face devoid of makeup that quickly turned flushed as she rapidly look left and right in panic. "A…A…A…"

    "Oh no, she's malfunctioning. We gotta reboot her somehow– Whoa!" Keith almost dropped down to his knees due to surprise, as Lizzie slammed the door with all her might next to his face.

    "Liz, what's going on?" Richard furrowed his brows, concerned with his friends.

    "W-why are you two here?" Lizzie audibly stuttered with panic in her voice, not knowing that Graham invited her two friends to the house.

    "Graham told us that you were sick, so we rushed here as fast as possible."

    "But aren't you two supposed to be at the club to prepare for tomorrow?"

    It was certainly the initial plan for not just Richard and Keith, but also for Lizzie to meet up and have lunch together near the Five Stars Club, so they could go and train together in preparation for the Student Cup they were planning to hold the next day. But as soon as they knew that Lizzie was sick and had to be alone in her house, they didn't even need a moment to contemplate ditching the initial plan and went straight over to her house at the time they agreed with Graham.

    "Yes, we're supposed to. At least until you got sick, so plans changed. Now would you open the door, please? I've brought some strawberry ice cream with me, so please let us in," Keith rattled the plastic bag filled with water bottles and a tub of ice cream inside it.

    "Please wait! Just give me a bit!" Lizzie shouted from the other side of the room, a huge commotion then proceeded to be heard inside the room as she was doing something inside the room.

    Meanwhile while waiting for Lizzie, Richard proceeded to have a word with his friend.

    "Why did you bring some ice cream for her? She's sick, for fuck sake," Richard whispered to Keith, exasperated at his friend's decision-making capability.

    "I don't know, it might boost her mood. She always craved ice cream when she was sick back then," Keith answered nonchalantly, not even bothering to keep his voice down.

    "That's before she lost her memories, dumdum! I still can't fathom whether you're actually a genius or not," He shook his head in disbelief.

    "Uhmm, ackshually there is a thing called forgetfulness, maybe you should search it up," said the man with the baseball cap as he acted goofy in purpose to tick off his friend.

    "Oh come on–

    "Sorry to cut you, but just in case you need an example to help you, the example of forgetfulness would be you when you forgot that both Celia and Aunt Melissa existed," Keith grinned a cheeky smile as Richard was visibly trying his best to recover from the shock as his jaw literally dropped due to not being remotely prepared to receive such a remark.

    After a brief moment of being rendered unable to speak as he was only able to raise his right hand in disbelief, he decided that there was only one retaliation perfect for the guy he called his best friend. "Since you've given me a proverbial low blow so it's only fair for me to respond to you with a literal low blow, no?"

    "Wait! Haha, no! Stop!"

    Both of the boys started to grapple each other's arm as they tried to physically prank the other, but when Richard managed to overpower Keith as he was about to tickle his friend until he begged for mercy, the two were distracted by the noise coming from inside the room that was growing louder and louder.

    "Hey Liz, is everything all right?" Richard yelled, concerned with what was going on inside.

    "Yeah! Wait a bit more please, I'm not looking presentable at all at the moment."

    "Oh please! It's not like we're taking you out for a date, and we've seen you with fewer articles of clothing than a homeless got house!"

    "That doesn't make sense, Keith. Homeless means that they don't have a house, so what you're implying with your statement is you've seen her without her skin, which is something a dumb person would say." Richard said to Keith with a smug grin as he tried to retaliate the shame he got when Keith gave him the proverbial low blow.

    "You know what I'm trying to imply smarty-pants, why don't you–

    "It's been ten years! Can we not discuss that!?" A loud voice from Lizzie cut off Keith's attempt at rebuttal. Richard was about to say something to her but stopped when he realized that Keith had dropped the plastic bag he held in his hand as he stood still with his eyes opened wide.

    "Keith, is everything alright?"

    "Uh… Richard, did you hear that?" Keith turned his head at his friend, looking pale as if he just saw a ghost.

    Richard's eyebrow furrowed. "N-no, what do you mean? Don't scare me like that!"

    Keith didn't let out a single word as he looked down toward the floor and sighed deeply, visibly contemplating seriously about what he was going to do. But after a deep breath, he reluctantly decided to ask out a question that shocked both Richard and Lizzie.

    "Liz, I want you to answer me truthfully. Did you have your memories back?"

    That very same question ceased the loud noise that was happening inside, adding fuel to the dread that crept on both of the boys regarding the possibility that Lizzie might be pretending to have her memory lost. Suddenly, the white door creaked open leading to Richard's heart beating even faster than the time he had to survive the incident at Rock Tunnel.

    While Richard was gathering his courage to reach the door handle, Keith decided to go inside, or at least attempted to.

    "Liz– Whoa!?" The Art Deco-styled door was slammed hard on Keith's face before he managed to enter, causing him to crash his back against the wall due to the sheer impact he received. "FUCK!" He gutturally screamed, holding his nose with both hands as he rolled around on the wooden floor trying his best to endure the pain he felt.

    Richard rushed to check on his friend, but as he did so, the door of Lizzie's room was slammed the other way as she ran out of the room with all her might. He didn't have the heart to leave Keith alone under the condition he was on, but seeing Lizzie barrelled down the hallway while letting out a hysteric cry was enough for him to recall the day she bolted out the class after hearing his hurtful words, resulting in her accident.

    Not wanting to repeat the same mistake he did years ago, Richard rushed as fast as he could at Lizzie who was running down the stairs as she headed toward the exit. In the heat of the moment, fearing what dangerous thing could Lizzie do if she managed to get out of the house, Richard leaped from the few final steps of the stairs, tackling Lizzie down while at the same time protecting her head from the impact with the floor with his right hand.

    "Let go! Let me go!" Lizzie hysterically bellowed as a torrent of tears flowed down her cheeks. She was so desperate to leave the house in an attempt to escape the reality she was in that she started to hit Richard several times with full force.

    "Liz, stop it! Liz! I just want to talk!" Richard hugged Lizzie tightly despite having fists rained down on him. Eventually, the rain of punches ceased as Lizzie drowned herself in her sorrow, shouting loudly with all her might as he lamented what would happen now that her two friends knew that she approached them with her memories intact.

    "Oh Liz…"
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Saffron City, May 30th, Morning


    Chapter 10 - 15
    Untangling the Messy Past
    Part 4

    After the commotion earlier, Lizzie was carried by Richard to her bed and quickly burrowed her mouth inside the blanket so that only her puffed-up eyes were showing to the two boys sitting on her each side as she sobbed inside the luxurious-looking room that was filled with an overwhelmingly sweet and luxurious scent, a scent that Richard didn't take a long time to identify as the scent of Lizzie's perfume but in a ridiculous intensity.

    "Geez, despite your now innocent look. Deep inside you're still a brute, huh?" Keith said, his tone showing displeasure at what just had befallen him.

    Keith then sighed deeply while holding a tissue to cover his bleeding nose with his left hand and his right holding his 'Saffron Metropolitans' cap— His favorite hat that had his favorite football team insignia, the Saffron Tower emblazoned on it. The once immaculate-looking cap that he had painstakingly maintained to be so had its brim cracked in half in the aftermath of what happened earlier. As durable as it was, it couldn't survive the impact of getting a door slammed into it. However, if there was any silver lining for the brown-haired boy, perhaps it was due to his cap that he managed to escape the incident with only blood stains on his white shirt that he wore underneath his black hoodie, instead of having his nose completely broken.

    "Keith." Richard glared at his friend, asking him to read the mood.

    Richard wasn't spared from the aftermath of what had happened earlier, just like Keith he also sustained a small injury. In his case, it was his left fingers that weren't so lucky as his desperate leap to stop Lizzie from exiting the house caused them to be sandwiched against both the wooden floor and Lizzie's head during the impact. Forcing Richard to reduce its swelling with a makeshift compress made out of a plastic bag filled with ice cubes he grabbed from the kitchen below.

    "What, are you trying that my nose is not that important? How could I attract the ladies with a broken nose, huh?" Keith winked at his friend, signaling to him that he wasn't that dumb.

    Richard gave a slight nod. "I mean with or without a broken nose, you're not gonna attract any girls, Keith."

    Keith giggled, his broken cap raised to playfully hit Richard sitting across from him. "You're a shitty friend, you know that?"

    Richard shrugged as he followed suit in giggling, but they weren't the only ones laughing as the girl who proceeded to burrow herself deeper in her pink blanket let out a weird noise that sounded like a mix of both sobbing and laughing at the same time.

    "Oh did you laugh, your highness?" Keith pulled the pink blanket down without much deliberation, revealing Lizzie who had the left side of her hair neatly done while the other side still disheveled pouting before yanking the blanket once more, hiding herself from the gaze of the two boys.

    "Oh dear, never have I seen someone who could laugh and cry at the same time," Keith spoke in jest to Lizzie who started to pout while still crying.

    "You know… I would love it if you would laugh without crying much, even Richard would agree with that sentiment."

    Despite Keith's attempt to reach out to the girl, she didn't show any sign of getting out of her blanket's embrace. She was too hesitant to reply to them, which left Keith with no choice but to change his strategy.

    "Nothing to say? Welp, guess we'll leave then. Let's go, Richard! I wanna see if my hat can be fixed somehow." Keith raised himself from his seat, with Richard following suit without missing a beat.

    "Wait!" Lizzie threw the blanket away, her right arm reaching out as she desperately yelled at the two in an attempt to stop them from leaving.

    "Hmm? Is anything the matter? If you want to have anything you want us to do, you'd have to say them, you know? Unlike Richard's team, we're not psychic, you know that?" Keith spoke, letting out a premeditated sigh to nudge Lizzie even closer to speaking.

    "I-I…" She took a deep breath. "I want to talk to you two,"

    Keith couldn't help but warmly smile at Lizzie, as the words he waited for escaped her lips. He wasn't 100% sure that the same technique that he had routinely used to make Richard speak during his time at Cape worked against her, but now that they could slowly work themselves into a solution, he couldn't be happier.

    Both of them took their seats on their respective wooden chairs once more while Lizzie, who now leaned back on her bed frame stuttered as she tried her best to find the right word to start the conversation.

    Lizzie moved her gaze against her friends as fear filled her heart, afraid of facing the rage both of her friends had for deceiving them. But as she stole a peek, she was met by warm smiles from both Richard and Keith who patiently waited for her to speak, which not only increased her urges to speak but at the same time also stoked her guilt for deceiving them about her condition. She was afraid to speak, but if she stayed silent she feared that she would squander her last chance to salvage whatever friendship was left between the three of them, so she squeezed her right hand as tightly as she could as she let out the words she always wanted to say for a very long time.

    "I-I'm sorry, I've hurt you both and that's something I couldn't unwind no matter how much I wanted to do. I'm really - really sorry," Lizzie desperately bowed, coughing a few times in the process.

    Despite her clearly not being in the state to be shelled with questions, Richard was also hesitant to end it inconclusively as it might end things awkward for both of them. So he took the middle route and skipped to the chase so Lizzie would have more time to rest.

    "Did you remember everything?"

    Lizzie weakly nodded, giving an answer to the question Richard already knew the answer to.

    "Since when?"

    "...Three months after I lost my memories. I was stealing a peek at the album my mom tried to burn, it was an album filled with our memories… And then, and then… I remembered everything… The accident people said was Richard's fault, it wouldn't happen if I was a better person. It's not his fault at all, it's all mine." Lizzie started to ramble, her eyes almost making way for tears once more.

    "Shh… Calm down, everything would be alright." Keith tenderly spoke to the shaken girl.

    After a bit, Richard realized that he shouldn't be pushing her more than this as she would buckle under the pressure, and that would be horrific considering the reckless action Lizzie tried to pull earlier just to get away from him and Keith.

    "I actually tried to enter Cape as Aunt Melissa told me that you—"

    "Wait. Please." Richard's eye widened, and his warm smile faded in an instant as he grasped what Lizzie had just told him. "So Aunt Melissa knew about you remembering everything?" He instinctively raised himself from his seat, much to the chagrin of Keith who clicked his tongue.

    Lizzie shivered, afraid of what would happen in the aftermath as Richard raised his tone, seemingly in disdain. But Keith's swift headshake was able to remind Richard of the situation they were in as he sat down again despite the displeased look lingering on his face.

    Richard knew the situation they were on, but he couldn't stop himself from speaking out loud about his thoughts.

    "Now I understand why Graham's attitude changed. While it may be true that he learned the details behind your accident, I sincerely doubt that she would accept the truth given by Miss Tia, besides Graham's as stubborn as a Bagon learning to fly, he wouldn't accept an explanation from her. On the other hand, if it's you who told him, everything makes sense." Richard exhaled deeply.

    "Did Celia know about this too?" Richard ended up asking another question, ignoring his initial decision of letting Lizzie off the hook easily.

    "No, Ce… Celia…" Lizzie stuttered, trying to find the best way to spin her words so they wouldn't hurt Richard. She eventually relented as she saw the expression painted on Richard's face— The face with a smile she adored was nowhere to be found as sitting on her right was a man who was exasperated, tired, and hurt after realizing the secrets kept from him. She didn't have the heart to lie to him anymore, not after everything she had put him through. "Celia k-knows."

    "So everybody and their mother knows, huh?" Richard slowly walked toward the window on the edge of the room, crackling noise came from the ice pack as he unconsciously crushed the ice inside to bits as he tried to keep the overwhelming feelings he had at bay.

    "Please, Richard! Don't be mad at them! It was me who insisted on keeping everything a secret! Please! Please! it's all my fault!" Lizzie tearfully pleaded.

    "I don't know how I'm supposed to feel. I'm happy that you remembered everything, the happy moments we shared, the memories we cherished, I'm glad that Keith and I weren't the only ones that held into those. Yet at the same time, I can't help but feel sad and angry after what you just told me," Richard strained his face, trying his best to smile despite the rage inside his heart to no avail.

    "Richard, even if they wanted to tell you. You do realize that you never read the messages your family sent you? It's not fair for you—"

    "SHUT UP!" Richard bellowed, his pained roar echoed through the room, freezing Keith in his tracks.

    "You think Professor Palm never told me the important things in their letter!? At one point, he started to relay messages between me and my family during evaluation sessions because he knew I couldn't escape them. If they really wanted to tell me the truth, they could've passed the message through him, or even told me through him that there was something urgent I needed to attend to. Instead, I languished for almost two years, thinking from time to time that I should just end my miserable existence for stealing the future of a daughter from her parents, a sister from her brother, and…" Richard stopped, tears rushing down her face. "A precious friend I loved dearly."

    "Rich–" Keith tried to reach out to Richard, only to be stopped by the wrathful stare coming from his best friend.

    "I need some time to think," Richard weakly muttered, walking through the door.

    Lizzie was left crying on Keith's shoulder as her heart shattered to a million pieces— Her dream of being able to reconnect with the one she treasured was left in ruins, as she helplessly watched Richard disappearing into the crowd from her bedroom window.
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Saffron City, May 30th, Evening


    Chapter 10 - 16
    Untangling the Messy Past
    Part 5

    Emerald Park— One of the several parks that served as one of the remaining pockets of greenery for the inhabitants of the ever-growing Saffron City. Located near the city center, the second biggest park in the entirety of Saffron was a great spot for the locals who used it for all sorts of activities, such as playing with their Pokemon, having picnics, or even as an event space due to how large it was.

    The park itself houses different kinds of greeneries that not only gave the parkgoers shade but also let out a sweet smell that helped people to relax. Unfortunately, even after several hours had elapsed since Richard had seated himself on one of the park's wooden benches, the smell didn't manage to help him as he let out one of the countless sighs he had let out since he left Lizzie's house.

    He had tried twice to calm himself down, once after lunch, and another after dinner. Both didn't work so well, otherwise, he wouldn't be sitting aimlessly this late at night. While going home was an option for him, he had no appetite for stepping foot inside his house, not when both Celia and Melissa were there. Lashing out at them after the countless times he did back during his violent days was the last thing he wanted to do, even after knowing the fact that they kept Lizzie's memory returning a secret from him, While it indirectly caused him to have a severe sense of guilt and depression these last two years, he had no heart to subject them to the same feeling he had at the moment, not even a fragment of it.

    At one point, Richard stole a glance at his communication device to check on how long he had spent moping around.

    "It's nine already? Yikes," Richard exhaled yet another sigh. It's a wonder that both Celia nor Melissa hadn't called him yet. At least until the sight of the signal indicator on his device jolted his memories. As the prohibition sign above the signal bars shows, there was no signal in the slightest. After all, he had set his device so he wouldn't receive any calls during his attempt to relieve his stress, his family included. He just forgot to turn it back on as his head was filled with negative thoughts to even remember that part.

    Feeling bad that he had left his house for quite a long time, he proceeded to lift himself from the bench only to hear a gentle voice calling his name. It was quite weird, especially considering the fact that nobody should ever loiter around the park that late, at least no one he was acquaintanced with should. After all, he did send a message to both his family that he needed some time to unwind to avoid misunderstandings. But a glance to his right soon answered his question, although not in the way he expected.

    "Lizzie!? What the hell are you doing here!?" Richard bellowed. He couldn't help but squint his eyes while gritting his teeth at the sight in front of him. Lizzie was slowly walking toward him while coughing constantly and not even the pink sweater and the matching colored scarf tightly wrapped around her neck were able to stop her from shivering.

    "That's my line," said the blonde-haired girl while adjusting the white beanie she wore as she slowly approached Richard.

    Richard tilted his head in disbelief. How could she have the gall to state a ridiculous statement after being outside this late with her sickly condition? It was inconceivable. She who couldn't even stand up without shaking was the one who didn't belong here. But he soon understood why Lizzie had responded coldly to his initial question.

    Behind her was an ordinary pond with nothing noteworthy about it in the slightest, it looked exactly like any other pond. It wasn't a wishing well or even a pond with an interesting mystery surrounding it, but he vividly remembered that it did appear on the local news broadcast for a single day. The news was about someone who accidentally slipped inside the pond and had to be admitted to the hospital due to it. Unfortunately, the media got two things wrong.

    One, it was not an accident but a deliberate attempt.

    Two, the person didn't slip, they dove into the pond head-first in an attempt to drown himself.

    Obviously, the reason Richard knew the truth was because he was the person in that story, and if it wasn't for Uri coming to his aid he would've ended up six feet under the ground.

    "Look, whatever you're thinking it's not like that, okay? I just liked the park's atmo—"

    "Liar!" Lizzie cut Richard off, her tone as sharp as a knife.

    "What do you mean, liar!? I haven't even—"

    "Liar!" Lizzie bellowed even louder, shutting down Richard's attempt at rebuttal. This was the last straw for the weary and tired boy.

    "YOU DON'T LIKE LIARS!? THEN WHY DON'T YOU TRY AND BE HONEST FOR FUCK SAKE!?" Richard let out an ear-splitting roar with rage laced all over it toward the sick girl's direction, causing her to flinch as she heard a voice so loud and wrathful that even caused several birds in the vicinity to fly away in fear. "Damn it, Liz. I'm not in the mood to talk to you right now. Just go away, go back to your house and rest." Richard huffed heavily before sitting down once more, unwilling to engage his friend in a conversation at the moment.

    Tears flowed down Lizzie's face as she flashed a miserable smile at Richard. "You know? Maybe I should go away."

    "Yeah, I think you should go now." Richard let out a sigh of relief. While he was still mad at his friend, a part of his heart feared what kind of crazy stunt Lizzie would pull in her current condition. However, that feeling only lasted for a fleeting moment.

    "Goodbye, Richard. I hope you will always be happy."

    "Wait, what!?" Richard's eyes widened in horror as he slowly came to the realization of what Lizzie was trying to do. "What do you mean!? Lizzie, stop!" He ran as fast as he could toward Lizzie's direction, but he was too late as Lizzie dove head-first into the frigid waters, much to Richard's horror.

    It didn't even take a second for Richard to decide that he should stop Lizzie's attempt of doing the very same things that caused a lasting regret on himself. So he plunged himself into the pond without caring about anything else than Lizzie's safety.

    The pond wasn't that very deep, but the large size of it made Richard's attempt to chase his friend harder as he saw that Lizzie was as good at swimming as he remembered. She was able to paddle herself away from him while bubbles started to come out from her mouth as she attempted to suffocate herself by inhaling as much water as possible. Thanks to Richard's desperate effort, he eventually managed to grab Lizzie's left ankle which he yanked with all his might to drag her away from the depths of the pond. As both of them floated above the water, Lizzie started choking due to the water she inhaled but without skipping a beat started to struggle to free herself as she immediately wailed at Richard despite struggling to even breathe properly.

    "Let me go! Let me go!" She screamed repeatedly, eventually even resorting to biting Richard's nape in an effort to force him to loosen his grip as he strongly tugged her toward the land. Lizzie was desperate to end her life right there and then. Everything she did to make things better ended up badly. Her parents, Graham, Keith, and lastly Richard only ended up hurt and disappointed by the various mistakes she made. Lizzie was determined to end her miserable existence for the sake of everyone else's happiness, but Richard never flinched in the slightest as he held her body tight, dragging her to the safety of the shore despite being rained by the girl's punches.

    "Hey! Answer me! Honestly! You would feel happy if I were gone right!? A good-for-nothing like me should just lie down in a ditch right!?" Lizzie yelled out. A torrent of tears flowed down her eyes as her will to live almost waned completely.

    But before she managed to utter another word cursing her miserable existence, it was cut by a thunderous slap, courtesy of Richard. As the loud noise reverberated through the air, Lizzie slumped down against the ground before Richard grabbed the collar of her pink sweater while breathing heavily, pulling up her limping body so his face— Full of rage, could meet Lizzie's lifeless eyes face-to-face.

    "I thought you'd changed! You're still a fucking egoist! Do you have any idea how idiotic your way of thinking is!? Do you know what are you doing trying to take the easy way out!?" Richard yelled with all his might, disregarding the fact that there might be someone else visiting the park.

    "I…I… Know… I want to live… But why should I live when all I could do is cause pain and suffering?" Lizzie weakly opened her mouth while sobbing. "It's for the best Richard… There's no other way…"

    "So you're saying you want to take the easy way out? Sure let's say you do… It's so easy, isn't it? A lot of ways that don't even take a minute for you to draw your last breath. But have you ever thought about what would happen afterward? Have you ever thought about how your Pokemon would feel? How would Grace feel after knowing her trainer left her alone in this world? How would your parents feel after losing their youngest child? How would Graham feel losing his beloved sister? How would your friends feel knowing that you are no more in this world? How about me!?" Richard wept, his hands still strongly grasping Lizzie's collar.

    "Why do you think I'm in so much grief for the last two years, huh? You think I would feel like that if someone whose future I thought I'd stolen wasn't someone dear to me? Of course not! You're a precious person to me, Liz!" Richard's voice cracked with grief. "When I tried to kill myself, I thought everyone would feel happy that my dirty existence is no more in this world. But no, all I saw after I woke up was the tears flowing down the eyes of my loved ones. Nothing will ever erase the horrible things we ever committed, Liz, nothing, but giving our lives up to atone for what we did would create nothing but more grief for the people who truly cared for us." Richard slowly lowered Lizzie's body to the ground before tenderly putting both of his hands on the trembling girl's shoulder. "You can move forward, Liz. If someone who did horrible things like me could get this far, then so do you. Don't give up hope."

    "Hey…" Lizzie opened her mouth at Richard who sat down on the ground next to her.


    "I'm scared... It feels like I will never be able to escape my past... So, if I stumble... Can you help me back up?"

    "I'll try my best." Richard let out a smile that broke Lizzie's emotional dam, the latter proceeded to hug Richard tightly.

    As Liz broke down in tears under the moonlight, the embrace between the two gave them warmth to protect them both from the chilling night and the coldness of reality.
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Saffron City, May 31st, Morning


    Chapter 10 - 16
    Forward, Unto a New Chapter
    Part 1

    "Man my body feels as sore as hell," Richard stretched his body to relieve the pain and soreness he felt without much success.

    One day had elapsed after the rollercoaster of emotions that Richard rode with his friends against his wishes. thankfully, this day started off much better compared to yesterday. Even so, his body was mostly banged up because of yesterday. His body felt sore after he lunged to stop Lizzie from exiting her house, not to mention the fingers of his left hand that were jammed between his and Lizzie's bodies yesterday was still swollen after the very same incident. Not only that, but his right cheek was also hurting as Lizzie's mother sure didn't hold back when she slapped it.

    Yeah, he got slapped the day before. After he had to endure the chilling breeze of the night that passed through his and Lizzie's soaked body as he carried her on his back, Richard eventually arrived in front of Lizzie's house, where several knocks on the front door gifted him an unwanted present of a thunderous slap courtesy of Mrs. Julie, Lizzie's mother. This time, despite the rage he felt after suddenly getting slapped, it quickly subsided as he swiftly came to an understanding about the feelings Mrs. Julie had at the moment.

    The tears flowing from her eyes, the gnashing of teeth, and her dilated pupils filled with rage. She was clearly overflowing with rage, and rightfully so too. Her only daughter who was sick had run away from home only to return fully soaked late at night, it was only natural that she let out all her pent-up anger and worries on the boy she thought was responsible for all of this.

    It took Graham and his father's effort to restrain his mother from laying her hands further on Richard, but as Lizzie who was unconscious woke up from the commotion, she managed to put an end to her mother's rage in almost an instant— Not without a lot of shouting, though. Lizzie's body which was once limp was full of vigor as rage fueled her body to scream at her mother, especially when she found out that her mother never bothered asking Richard about what had actually happened.

    Perhaps in Mrs.Julie's eyes, Lizzie did nothing wrong. But in her own daughter's eyes, it was clear that it couldn't be more wrong, and what had transpired earlier only added to the list of sins she ever did to Richard. As tears trickled down her face, she let out a wrathful roar as her dainty body trembled violently much to the horror of everyone else there.

    Thankfully, Graham managed to step in before Lizzie did anything drastic. And the night ended with Graham carrying her sister while Mrs. Julie stormed off back to her room, leaving her husband who profusely apologized to Richard for all that had just transpired before seeing the boy off.

    Richard had no idea how he managed to reach his house, but he had a feeling that if it wasn't for the cold breeze piercing his wet skin, he wouldn't even be able to reach it without losing consciousness. Both Celia and Melissa were horrified when they saw the state of Richard as he arrived at the doorstep. While Richard had a smile plastered on his face, only a fool would think nothing was wrong seeing the horrible state Richard was in.

    While Celia wanted to squeeze out an answer from her cousin's mouth, Melissa was content letting him rest for the day, albeit reluctantly which Richard could tell from her hesitant expression as she reheated the dinner for him. As the young boy laid down on his pillow after a quick bath, he couldn't help but feel much grateful for his aunt's decision to not ask anything about what had transpired that day despite sitting across him at the dining table.

    Richard was drained both mentally and emotionally, so much so that he had considered not washing himself up after dinner in fear of falling unconscious in the bath. Thankfully he managed to keep himself awake, at least long enough for him to sleep in the soft embrace of his bed.

    Time passed and eventually, the beautiful sun rose above the metropolis sky once more bringing a new day for the inhabitants of Saffron City. For Richard that would include resting after all that happened yesterday, or so his cousin and aunt thought.

    "Huh!? Why do you—" Said Celia in a muffled voice, before coughing and choking from the pancake inside her mouth.

    "Come on, you shouldn't talk before you swallow your food," Richard gently spoke as he rubbed the back of his cousin who sat next to him.

    "—Does it have anything to do with what happened yesterday?" Celia asked, while her mother sitting across her had her pupil dilated, clearly shocked at her daughter's bluntness.

    "Kind of… You know… I have to be there for Lizzie today, that's all I can say." Richard stuttered slightly while answering.

    Celia hesitated slightly before opening her mouth, but she decided to do so anyway. "...Lizzie? Speaking about her, did you…"

    "CELIA!" Melissa shouted at her daughter, banging the table with her fist at the same time.

    Richard let out a heavy sigh as he fully understood what Celia was about to ask him before her mother interrupted her. The thought of how he had suffered for two years by the weight of guilt as both Celia and Melissa didn't even bother to tell him about how Lizzie had recovered her memories resurfaced much to his headache.

    Rage welled up inside the weary boy's heart as his hand trembled mightily. Yet despite it, he managed to put out a forced laugh before showing up a smile that unnerved both of his relatives. "Yes… Unfortunately, I did find out about it."

    Both Celia and Melissa were left in disbelief seeing how Richard reacted. Breaking the frown that had surfaced on her lips, Melissa spoke up.

    "Richard… I…" Melissa reached out toward his nephew who raised his hand to stop her before she managed to close the distance between them.

    "Sorry, but let's not talk about it right now, shall we?" Said Richard while barely able to maintain his smile.

    Despite the smile Richard had, none of it was shared by both Celia and Melissa. The breakfast carried on under a deafening silence before Richard eventually left the house, despite the clear reluctance from both her aunt and cousin to let the boy go after what had transpired the day before.

    Not even a few minutes had elapsed after he went out, and Richard found himself struggling to walk forward. His vision was blurry, not to mention the fact that he was breathing heavily. Thankfully, there was a bench nearby to sit in before he completely collapsed.

    He was in no condition to go outside, but he already had the resolve to see how Liz was doing no matter what. After all, the pain inside Lizzie's heart must've outweighed all the fatigue and pain wearing down his body. With Graham busy with the tournament at the Five Stars Club and the message from Keith that he got earlier this morning saying that he was unable to take care of Lizzie due to family matters, it's up to him to make sure nothing bad fell upon his dear friend.

    "Damn, sucks to be me, huh?" Richard weakly laughed as he scratched his reddened eyes. He didn't want to use medicines as a crutch, but with the current situation he was in, there wasn't much of a choice.

    He grabbed a pill and his water bottle out of the sling bag he brought with him and swiftly ingested the drug. It took a bit until the pill's effect kicked in, but at the very least it helped with lessening both the pain and lightheadedness.

    Not wanting to make his friend wait any further, he rose from his seat and continued to walk towards Lizzie's house.

    "Wait for me, Liz," Richard mumbled to himself.
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Lizzie's House, Saffron City, May 31st, Morning


    Chapter 10 - 17
    Forward, Unto a New Chapter
    Part 2

    "Come on, eat some. You loved apples. don't you?" Richard smiled, holding a plate with slices of apple in his left hand and a fork in his right.

    Liz looked his way warily, but not without munching the apple her friend dangled in front of her mouth. It was clear, however, that the girl still clad in her pink PJs had something in her mind and it didn't take long for her to convey her thoughts to her friend,

    "Are you really okay?" Liz spoke weakly.

    "Yes? What's wrong?" Richard smiled.

    "I'm not stupid, you know? You've stumbled a few times already."

    Richard took a deep breath, scratching the back of his neck as the smile on his face faded. As expected, Liz managed to sniff him out, it was an eventuality he was prepared to deal with. However, if what Liz said was true, then perhaps he was in an even worse condition than he initially thought he was in.

    "Sorry. To be quite honest, my head was killing me. Don't worry, I'll rest up plenty as soon as someone else is here with you." Richard calmly remarked as if it was nothing.

    Lizzie however didn't share the same sentiment. With her cheeks filled with air, she quickly acted out her displeasure. She decided to yank Richard's cardigan out of the blue, which almost caused Richard to fall forward from the wooden chair he was sitting on.

    "Hey! Hey! I'm holding a fork here!" Richard desperately held the knife and the plate with both hands while he planted both his foot on the wooden floor with all his might.

    "Sorry." Liz eased up her grasp on Richard's cardigan before releasing her hand altogether.

    With a big sigh, Richard looked over at his friend. She clearly wasn't in the right state of mind to make a proper decision anytime soon. Despite the fact that her action didn't have any kind of malice behind it, even an action based on kindness can hurt someone else. Richard whose action in the past was based on a misguided notion of doing the right thing knew better than most people.

    Furthermore, the thought of how the knife on the plate could possibly hurt Lizzie or him floated through Richard's mind, especially if he was the one accidentally injured by it. Lizzie would definitely blame herself if it were to happen, and with the fragile state of her mind she was in, would her state of mind revert to yesterday before he met her at the park?

    Or would it even reach a worse state than even yesterday?

    In the middle of his thoughts, Richard was pulled back to reality by a cold hand on his cheeks.

    "A-are you okay?" Liz looked him straight in the eye at a distance so close that Richard almost jolted back. Her puffy eyes were close to tearing up once more, perhaps thinking that she worsen things again once more.

    "I'm okay silly, I was just thinking about something, that's all." Richard laughed off Liz's concerns, yet her worries didn't seem to be washed away in the slightest.

    Deafening silence then ensued inside the bedroom. There were no words exchanged between the two as both of them seemed to blank on what to do.

    Looking from outside, Lizzie seemed to be fine. But Richard didn't feel right about letting the deafening silence between them stay, especially considering how it happened. He was afraid that negative thoughts would brew inside Lizzie's mind, especially with her current mental state. With that in mind, Richard knew he had to kill the silence somehow, but with what?

    He and Keith tended to throw jokes at each other to lighten up the mood between them but with Lizzie's current condition— Caution needed to be exercised about what kind of joke he had to pull, or else he might cause her to feel more depressed.

    There was one idea that popped up inside Richard's mind and it was the kind of joke that would most likely work, but… It's not an idea he was keen on executing. It was an overtly childish joke that suited Keith way more than him. If he had more time and less head pain, he would've done something else, but he had none of those.

    Hoping it wasn't as dumb of an idea as he thought in his head, Richard sighed heavily before reluctantly putting his plans into motion. The bespectacled boy hung his navy cardigan over the wooden chair, while his glasses were put on Lizzie's bedside table as he walked over to the other side of the bed. There he threw himself to the empty side of the bed before groaning loudly. There wasn't much empty space available there, but it was still better than nothing.

    Lizzie of course was visibly confused by this and Richard knew well it was the case by seeing her flushed face. Hell, his own face was flushed thinking about how dumb this idea was— But it was too late for him to stop.

    "Geez, it reeks of sweat here," Richard spoke out while closing his nose with his right hand as if he was overwhelmed by the room's noxious odor.

    "Ah, there should be some air freshen—"

    "Eh no need, I kinda like it."

    "Eh, what do you mean—" Before the blonde-haired girl could finish her sentence, Richard suddenly moved his head so he could burrow into the teeny-tiny part of Lizzie's pillow that wasn't occupied by her dainty head.

    "Hmmm~ Lizzie's sweet scent~" Richard inhaled the smell of the pillow with quite an exaggeration.

    "AAAAAAA!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?" Lizzie desperately tried to push her friend away, initially with minimal success. But as she put her entire might into one mighty push, she managed to push Richard away, but in the process also propelled herself forward.

    The resulting situation made the pair blush red like roses as their faces were so close that their nose touched each other. Under panic and extreme embarrassment, both turned their body to the other side in a hurry.

    Ugh…Kill me… Richard groaned inside his heart while putting both of his hands to cover his embarrassed look. Perhaps Lizzie wasn't the only one that wasn't in the right mind, he thought to himself.

    Silence then ensued once more. But this time, it was comforting.

    Richard decided to take a peek to check on his friend, only to notice that Lizzie was doing the same. Both hurriedly turned their head back before breaking into laughter.

    The pair then faced each other once more, this time with a smile painted on both their faces.

    "Pervert." Lizzie lightly knocked Richard's head.

    "Hey, I had to do something okay? It's a stupid idea I'd admit, but… If you smile like that, it's all worth it." Richard grinned widely. "When was the last time we laid down face-to-face together like this? It's been ages ago, isn't it?" Said Richard.

    "It was at the sand pit."

    Richard squinted his eyes while tilting his head as he pondered about what Lizzie said. He couldn't remember in the slightest what was it all about. After all, he and Lizzie had exchanged fists one too many times, especially when they were really young.

    Lizzie who noticed this opened up her mouth once more. "We had a big tussle there after you stole my Wailord crackers."

    The added context given by Lizzie was enough for Richard to connect the dots.

    "Ah… yes, I remember that. Also no, I didn't steal your crackers." Richard giggled.

    "You did though! Are you trying to gaslight me!?"

    "I only took back what was rightfully mine, you ate my Wailord crackers when I played at your house so it was only right if I ate my share of yours. So, actually In that case it is not stealing, your honor." Richard raised his imaginary glasses with the back of his palm.

    Seeing how her friend started to act silly, Lizzie poked Richard's cheek only to have him wincing slightly even though she didn't put much force behind it.

    As she realized that It was the very same cheek that got slapped by her mother, her mouth arced downward as the joy she felt just a moment ago dissipated into thin air.

    "Don't worry. Even if your mother broke my cheekbone, it wouldn't break my top 10 worst injuries list. I'll be fine." Richard flashed a smile in an attempt to ease her friend's worry, yet the weak smile Lizzie gave back to him didn't manage to ease his.

    As Richard felt that the pain in his head slowly came creeping back, he knew he had to get himself rested as soon as possible. Besides, he was out of ideas on how to cheer Lizzie up, perhaps some sleep would give him the energy he needed to help her out.

    "Well, I guess it's time for me to rest up then. You should rest up too, you wouldn't want your mother to nag at you, do you?"

    Richard tried to lift himself up to go rest himself on the living room sofa, but he found himself stopped at the last second as he found Lizzie's hand weakly grabbing his.

    "Can't you stay here?" Lizzie asked Richard weakly.

    "I don't know, Liz. Your bed's quite small even for your—"

    Richard stopped himself midway as his eyes locked gaze with his friend. She was looking at him with pleading eyes, clearly needing some comfort desperately, and it wasn't like it was some sort of an unreasonable request either. With that in mind, Richard decided to honor her wish.

    "Alright, alright, but please don't show me such a sight. I'm weak to that, you know?" Said Richard as he gently laid himself on the bed once more.

    Just a moment barely passed before Lizzie burrowed her face on Richard's chest.

    "Hey, promise me. If there's anything I can help you with, tell me, I beg of you." She told her friend in a muffled voice.

    "Alright, princess. Will do. Now go to sleep." Richard responded with a soothing voice.

    Lizzie nodded, but she never removed her head from Richard's body. Neither did her hands that were hugging his friend tightly. Her hands were wrapped so tight, almost akin to one a child would give their parents after having a bad dream.

    As the time in the bedroom slowly slipped away, so did Lizzie's consciousness. But Richard's thoughts kept him awake despite being the one who suggested themselves to rest. As Richard held her friend in a gentle embrace, he carefully caressed her hair. Her usually silky smooth blonde hair was nowhere to be seen, replaced by a tangled and frizzly mess. Her pajamas also felt damp, she clearly sweated a lot between the time she rested yesterday and the time he visited. But at the very least, Richard couldn't feel any abnormal heat coming from her body as he gently checked her body for fever, which gave the boy a slight relief.

    He had a big sigh as his train of thoughts about Lizzie continued to chug along without an end in sight. Thinking about how she must've suffered too the last two years led Richard to clutch his friend's unconscious body even tighter. He hoped that at the very least, he could give her some relief no matter how small it was, just like how Keith and Uri had saved him during his lowest point the last two years.

    Perhaps the answer to relieving her of the overwhelming guilt on her shoulders lay upon her request before she fell asleep. Unfortunately, it was a question for another time, as Liz wasn't the only one urgently needing time to rest.

    Richard wished with all his heart as he fell asleep, that the answer he found can make Liz smile brightly like a star.

    Just like the old days.
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Lizzie's House, Saffron City, May 31st, Evening


    Chapter 10 - 18
    Forward, Unto a New Chapter
    Part 3

    When Richard woke up from his slumber, the small hand of the alarm clock on Liz's bedside table already moved to the number four signifying that he had already slept for quite some time. The warm, golden glow coming from the window reassured him that he hadn't accidentally slept for almost an entire day, even with the heavy physical and mental exhaustion that had mounted on him.

    As his consciousness slowly but surely came back to him, so did the pangs of hunger gnawing at his stomach. Realizing that he almost skipped lunch, Richard carefully moved his body to roll himself out of bed without waking the sleeping princess who was still sleeping so soundly next to him with a calm expression painted on her visage.

    However, not even three seconds had elapsed until his eyebrows were raised by the fact that he couldn't roll himself out of the bed due to something obstructing his way. Richard tried to make sense of why he couldn't move, but then his groggy self realized it would just be much faster if he just took a peek over his shoulder.

    And there it was, the source of his problem. It was another princess. An even smaller princess than Lizzie. A princess who could read minds… To an extent. It was Grace, Lizzie's Kirlia. She somehow managed to sneak herself into the already cramped bed just right behind Richard's body.

    Richard bit his lips as he watched over Grace who was sleeping peacefully like her master, he just didn't feel right to wake her up. Fortunately for him, his indecision was swiftly ended by the tremor happening in his belly while an embarrassing sound accompanied it. He realized that he was famished, and it was bad enough for him to put his hunger over Grace's rest.

    Moments like this made him wish he had Uri's Teleport, but reality was never ideal or even outright bad, just like how his life had gone so far. Therefore just like how he had lived his life, he decided it was better off to suck it up and move forward than to lament what could've been for an eternity.

    He gently tapped Grace's shoulder, increasing its intensity until she finally woke up. Richard initially told her to make way for him in a whispering voice and ordered her to sleep once more once he was out of bed, but the half-awoke Grace had other ideas.

    Not listening to Richard's plea, Grace was more focused on burrowing her head on Richard's chest which led the young man to shake his head. However, there wasn't a single hint of frustration in Richard's face as fond memories started to flood inside his head.

    Grace's show of affection was something he was very fond of back when he was very young. She was a shy Pokemon, that was definitely a fact. Richard remembered that it took weeks for Grace to warm up to him, but as soon as she did, she was at times even closer to him than to her own trainer, which wasn't helped by Lizzie's rough and wild nature at the time.

    Now that he had some time to process it again, the bespectacled boy couldn't help but find a huge smile blooming on his face as he remembered how Uri wasn't very receptive to him meeting Grace again. Perhaps it was jealousy at play, just like back then. Richard couldn't help but chuckle thinking about how his trusted partner still couldn't even let go of his childhood gripes even when he already overcome his jealousy issue with Eileen.

    "Hey, sweetheart… While I would love to pamper you, I have some business to take care of right now. So, scoot over, will you?" Richard whispered, his hands softly caressing the Pokemon's right hand that was lightly put over the boy's hips.

    Grace shook her head while letting out a gentle noise, clearly unwilling to comply with Richard's request.

    The boy could only shake his head as he saw Grace's response to his small request.

    "Shhh… You'll wake your trainer up, little girl. Wait… You do have Teleport, right? Can I ask you for a favor and Teleport us to the door?"

    The Kirlia tilted her head with a confused look.

    "Oh, you little–" Richard could only sigh at Grace's attempt to feign ignorance.

    He finally relented at his lack of options as he realized Grace's refusal left him with one way out, he had to exit the room through the door while carrying Grace in his arms.

    On paper, it wasn't really a big deal, he just had to sneak out the door while carrying the young maiden with him. Easy stuff, or so he thought for a few moments before reality set in.

    A problem quickly arose when he attempted to sit upright on the bed. While he used to cradle Grace when she was still really young, she was a Ralts at the time. A Kirlia weight almost as heavy as the sack of grains he used to lug around at ol' Tarkus' farm, not that he would say it directly to the concerned party. Even he knew it was a sensitive topic for most girls, the needy, spoiled, little maiden included.

    Would he risk his recently healed ribs just so he could get out of this room? He thought to himself. Sadly with his hunger growing unabated with the lack of sustenance, the answer was pretty straightforward.

    With both of his legs firmly planted on the floor, Richard took a deep breath before attempting to raise himself up in one big burst of movement. It wasn't easy, but despite having his teeth rattling and his legs wobbling early in the attempt, he managed to carry himself and Grace towards the door where the Emotion Pokemon surprisingly enough used her psychic power to push down the door handle without making noticeable noise.

    As soon as the pair went out, Grace closed the door with her psychic power once more with precision, barely even making a noise except the giggles she let out after she succeeded.

    "Geez, you finally decided to be useful for once, huh?"

    Richard's comment was met by a not-so-innocent whistling from the young maiden being cradled, she avoided the boy's gaze while doing so like a child caught getting their hand inside the cookie jar.

    "Hey, look at me. Hey!" Richard tried his best to meet Grace's eyes by moving his head, but Grace kept moving her head away to avoid it.

    "Aha, gotcha!" The bespectacled boy eventually managed to meet eye-to-eye with Grace with the help of his hand which kept the head of the Kirlia in place. But before he managed to have a proper talk with the young maiden, his eyes were opened wide as the girl shone gently in white with a smile as she disappeared into thin air.

    "Oh, you're so grounded, little girl." Richard put out a wide grin as he turned his head over his shoulder.

    Grace who finally decided to remember she could teleport away, covered her mouth with both hands as she acted bashfully. At the very least she was until she found herself being chased by the bespectacled boy in a hot pursuit.

    As joy emanated from the bright smiles painted on the pair's faces, they raced downstairs as fast as their leg could carry them, completely forgetting the fact that they were supposed to act silently as Grace let out a shrill noise filled with excitement while their legs made loud noises as it repeatedly made contact with the ground.

    Richard was no stranger to running as fast as he could, whether it was running literally or running from his problems, he had trained himself extensively. But no matter how much energy he tried to wring out from his body, he couldn't exactly close the gap with Grace whose nimble legs managed to keep the boy at bay.

    That is until Grace suddenly stopped herself in the middle of the stairs heading downward.

    "What's wrong, Grace?"

    Richard didn't waste any time before squatting down to check Grace's slender legs in an effort to make sure everything was alright, but there wasn't anything visibly wrong with it. It was when Grace pointed in the living room's direction, that the bespectacled boy finally realized why she stopped herself in her tracks.

    Amidst the stylish decor of the room, a familiar figure was being cradled In the luxurious grey sofa made of soft felt. His swept-back blonde hair glistened, bearing the telltale sign of his recent bathing supported by the damp white towel draping over his neck. His back was leaning against the comfortable sofa in relaxation while holding a can of 'Lime Rocket', his personal choice of beverage. On the projected screen before him, a gritty crime drama was being broadcast gripping his attention… Or was, before the ruckus distracted him.

    Without even lifting his body from the comforting embrace of the sofa, he parted his lips.

    "I thought you two have grown up, apparently both of you are still as silent as fireworks on New Year's Eve."

    Richard couldn't suppress the faint smile painted on his face. It wasn't the first time the blonde man sitting on the sofa admonished him with words laced heavily with sarcasm. In their younger days, he, Keith, and Lizzie used to stir all sorts of commotion due to their antics, only to face the man's sarcastic jabs when they eventually came down.

    "Of course, it wouldn't be a visit to Liz's house without your nagging ass, Graham," he retorted with a playful glint in his eyes.
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Lizzie's House, Saffron City, May 31st, Evening


    Chapter 10 - 19
    Forward, Unto a New Chapter
    Part 4

    The rich aroma wafted through the air of Liz's house as two blonde-haired boys decided the best way to wait for the delicious stew that the two of them used to eat together when they were young was to compete in who could outwit each other in friendly banter… Mostly friendly.

    In one corner, sitting on the luxurious grey sofa as he turned his head towards the kitchen was Richard Wolstenholme. He was smirking widely, eager to prove that he could hold his own against the big brother figure who used to hold nothing back in everything leaving him with tattling to Graham's parents and sobbing heavily as the two ultimate weapons to subdue the tyrannical beast.

    Adjusting the lense-less spectacles hanging on his face, Richard widely smirked, exuding confidence that his three years of experience on dark self-deprecating humor mixed with a treasure trove of cringy jokes in his repertoire courtesy of his best bud, Keith would be enough to reverse his fortunes that almost always ended up on the losing side back when he was a wee lad.

    On the other corner, standing in front of the stove in the open kitchen with an apron draped above his teal shirt was Graham Horton. He was also smirking, clearly full of confidence that the younger boy wouldn't be able to outmaneuver his wondrous wits. He clearly felt that this battle would end just like how he remembered it. His utter dominance always shone brightly against the "Three Little Ducklett" including Richard, in all fields such as pillow fights and running away from a neighbor's house when a soccer ball accidentally cracked their window when one of them accidentally kicked it too hard. Granted it was against three young children with a five-year gap, but he was still ruling over them nonetheless. He was more than ready to show the little Ducklett who had forgotten his place who was the king among them.

    Meanwhile, peeking from the side of the grey sofa made of soft felt was Grace. Her round, googly eyes were filled to the brim with curiosity as her gaze shifted between the two boys. She held her breath with a mixture of fascination and nostalgia as she watched a familiar scene unfolding upon her gaze. She was watching with so much intent as if she was watching the final inning of the World Series.

    So… How did this situation come to fruition?

    Well, due to his ever-growing feeling of hunger, Richard tried to excuse himself for a moment to buy himself something to satiate his empty stomach. However, before he left the living room Graham offered to whip something up in the kitchen– Well forced is a better word to describe it, considering Richard didn't manage to utter a sentence before Graham pulled out his checkered apron from one of the kitchen drawers.

    As Graham reheated the leftover stew from last night's dinner, he found himself unable to resist the temptation to stir the pot, both literally and figuratively. While he adjusted the heat of the stove, he launched a verbal jab at the younger boy who was sitting leisurely on the sofa as he watched the broadcast Graham left on.

    Not willing to back down from a challenge, one from Graham especially, Richard swiftly retaliated against Graham with his own witty comment. What began from a small exchange of words snowballed into a taunting game between one another that ended up with the two agreeing on a contest of wits. It was time for the used-to-be regular event between them – the Battle of the Banters.

    While not leaving the position they held initially, the pair exchanged squinted eyes as they attempted to masterfully concoct the words that would hand them a victory over the other. Eventually, one of them decided to launch a preemptive strike.

    Not willing to let his younger counterpart gain the upper hand, the older boy decided to fire a bold 'play of words' shot firsthand before Richard could unleash his prepared material at him.

    "Wow, I didn't expect you to be sleeping with my sister while she's unwell. Man, you're something else." Graham punctuated his jab with a slow sarcastic clap.

    "Wording, Graham. If you have a problem with me taking care of your sister properly, then perhaps a certain someone should do a better job doing so?" Said Richard with a huge grin.

    For a split second, Richard thought he was in control with his well-thought response. But looking at Graham's confident look made him think twice about it. It was clear as day that Graham already prepared an escape route from his verbal assault, causing the younger boy the question whether he really had the upper hand despite the strong choice of topic to bring up.

    Graham nonchalantly replied, "A Problem? Pfft… Come on. Besides, if anything you're helping me by ridding me of a problem. I'd give her to you in a heartbeat. Heck, I'd even pay for you to take her away, are you kidding me?" He chuckled heartily before tasting the stew in front of him.

    The bespectacled boy couldn't suppress his rising eyebrows as he heard unexpected words parted by Graham's lips. He momentarily froze from the sheer surprise as he couldn't believe that Graham would leave his defense so vulnerably open by his own bold statement. However, given his history with Graham, Richard couldn't help but think that it was an open invitation to lead him to his demise.

    Richard was unwilling to go down so easily, but the shock from Graham's outlandish comment prevented him from coming out with a surefire solution to the sticky situation he found himself in. With seconds ticking away and fear of a finishing blow from Graham mounting alongside it, the bespectacled boy decided to put down all his chips on a decisive strike rather than await his impending downfall.

    "Dang, heartless much? After all these years, that's how you would treat your oh-so-dear sister? I'm so disappointed in you, big bro." Richard fired, shaking his head dramatically while rubbing his eyes to show his feigned sorrow.

    Richard had put all of his cards on the table as he banked on what on the surface seemed to be a promising route to victory. But of course, all of this was part of Graham's plan as he pulled the rug from underneath the young boy's legs in one fell swoop.

    "Oh no, it's the exact opposite. Exactly because I know you both would be perfect for each other is why I would do so, so please don't accuse me of things I would never think about. Besides, you were the one who used to say that you'd take her as your bride."

    The sheer embarrassment from Graham's statement was enough to paint Richard's cheeks fully crimson. His attempt to land a verbal knockout blow ended with him on the receiving end of a verbal roundhouse kick that sent him into his defeat.

    Richard couldn't help but think about the past as he thought about the words coming out of Graham's mouth. There was a time when he harbored deep affection for Lizzie, and embarrassingly he still remembered the times he asked for help from Graham so he could spend some time alone with her.

    "Can't win an argument against you, huh?" Richard sighed heavily, turning his back away from the older boy to focus back on the crime drama playing on the screen. Despite Grace who understood what Graham talking about trying to tease him about it, he tried his best to focus on the show to avoid being grilled about his embarrassing past.

    "Oh no, little buddy. You're still three hundred years too young to beat me in a banter-off," Graham chuckled.

    "...Humans don't live that long, though?" Richard answered with his best deadpan impression while fending off Grace who was tugging on the sleeves of his shirt, trying to get him to respond to Graham's knockout blow.

    "Yes, so you'll never beat me. Don't worry though lil' bro, you can beat me in your dreams if it's consolation."

    "Wow, what a nice guy!" Richard finally looked back at Graham who was grinning smugly at him while flipping the bird off at the older boy.

    Not long after the dust settled from the two's swift battle, the stew started to bubble up signaling it was time to eat. As Richard expected, it was as rich and delightful as he remembered it from his childhood, filling him with a sense of nostalgia.

    The late lunch was a wonderful experience, especially with great company alongside the great food.