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localhoney

~either i'm careless or i wanna get caught~
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
2002
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
146
Location
Miami, FL
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Electric, Poison
Pokédex Entry
Localhoney, the Sweet Toxin Pokemon. It's said that the sounds it emits can paralyze even a Gigantamax Grimmsnarl.
Oh, you are the devil.

This battle was so god damn intense, and the way Iris boiled over when she realized Ghetsis was already dead was so wild. The battle was perfect, it was fluid, it was hitting every beat right when it needed to. And the way you handled the deaths broke my heart. She was lost in the midst of the battle and didn't get hit with the brunt of the loss until right at the end. Speaking of, that line shattered me after all that action. Good-bye baby Quasar!

This was an awesome update and the Original One was such a cool way to bring the threads of the story together in a way that didn't feel forced or out of character, it just felt like Josey's next logical step. Incredible job.
 

KamenRiderBurst

Conqueror of the Pewter Gym
Pokédex No.
2094
Caught
Jun 7, 2020
Messages
4
The second I saw you post on discord I slapped on God-Shattering Star and went for a ride. This was an amazing fight but gosh everybody died except Mr. Sandman and considering the relationship between him and Josey that can't feel like even a cold comfort damn.

Looking forward to the Epilogue!
 

Missy

i left my heart in alola
Writer
Pokédex No.
94
Caught
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
99
Nature
Lax
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Tough
Pokédex Entry
just missy now
why must you hurt me this way

this is a pretty stellar climactic battle. it pays off all the legendaries that josey accumulated like a snowball rolling downhill, and its bombastic and bloody and raw. the loss of quasar hurts the most, and i cant believe he bit the bullet in victory road of all places.

i love your writing and your characters and your story

also, now that iris is defeated its time for her to, uh.... (spins wheel of horrible stuff that happens in this run. it stops on the slice between "dismembered and stuffed into a box" and "frozen to a crisp") ....get eaten by a dragon!
 

SayleeK

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
92
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
Finally got around to catching up, and, uh, holy fucking shit my dude

So, first off, way to fucking break my heart REPEATEDLY in rapid succession and somehow have it fucking hurt every time, like, I really thought there was no more pain left between Josey witnessing her dad's death, and Magnets' death, and the other deaths piling up all around, and Colress breaking up with Hugh, and then you hit me with that "why does everyone she loves always leave her?" shit as Quasar peacefully floats away, FUCKING DAMN. You had a hell of a bloody endgame, huh? Well done Mr Sandman, MVP and sole survivor, I guess, but holy shit.

I did cackle a bit when Josey told Iris that Ghetsis was already dead, got frozen shattered and solid like the punk-ass bitch he is, no dramatic resolution for YOUR daddy issues, Iris. I'm not sure if somebody's gonna kill her or if she's just gonna spend the rest of her days in jail marinading in her failures. Could see her getting the shit kicked out of her by a mob like Shauntal, though. Gonna suck to be her, either way, but even more so than usual. God, this run's been SO savage and painful for everybody involved.

And then... making the dragons whole again? :chef's_kiss: Beautiful. After all those themes of loss, and loneliness, and emptiness, bringing them together and making them whole is such a beautiful move on Josey's part, and it's so selfless, too. She gives away all that power, and in some part of her brain she had to know that using that third wish might mean losing Quasar too, but she still did it, because it was the right thing to do and it needed done. Amazing, beautiful, 100/10 please stop hurting me
 

Whozawhatcha

i have too many projects
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
74
Nature
Lonely
Pokémon Type
Fire, Flying
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #205
@localhoney i was never really sure how the ending would go down (other than bloody as FUCK, i lost everyone in that damn Challenge Mode E4 because I walked in underleveled thinking I was still playing the game on regular mode). So to see how it unfolded with Iris and Josey was satisfying as fuck. And Hugh's really come into the spotlight too, and even though Sandman was quick enough to Dark Void hax the game for the win, it made better sense for Hugh to rescue Josey. I just.....knew the climax battle would be heavy as fuck because of what Josey went through. And I always knew she'd bring back the Original One and heal the dragons. Wish I'd focused a little bit more on the legit missed metaphor opportunity with Josey owning a magneton.

@KamenRiderBurst Challenge Mode Unova I will easily say is harder than Platinum, goddamn, Iris was a beast. The whole E4 really was, we got wrecked. I legit only "won" because of a legendary. We've got some falling action yet before that epilogue (goddamn my characters need a moment to breathe) but we'll get there!

@Missy well yes, you see, i almost bloody wiped at the end of this game, so i knew it was gonna end bad. Haha. hahh. I COULDN'T BELIEVE I LOST QUASAR IN VICTORY ROAD. Omg, I was so goddamn mad I almost cheated and said he lived. Pissed, I tell you. Anyways, yes, we do get to see what happens to Iris!

@SayleeK long time no see treasure hunter! Maaan, the endgame was SO bloody, it was a goddamn mess, never play Unova Challenge Mode, it will tear you apart. I'm so glad all the heavy things have been hitting and I'm so glad Josey choosing to make the dragons whole again was effective. We start this chapter at max speed before calming the fuck down, haha, so hopefully I can get all this falling action in before the epilogue.

“Sometimes the ending is your best escape
I got a heart on the edge and it wants to break
And I know that once I walk away
I won't return to the ruins”

Ruins __ Ryder



It’s Iris screaming, “Thunder! Outrage!” that snaps me back to real life too late.

My focus is on Josey. She’s lost her whole team. She fought a battle that should’ve been mine. She done all this for the dragons—no, just the One—and all she’s got to show for it is dead pokemon and bloody hands. I wanna go to her. I wanna comfort her. I ain’t seen her cry since . . . since her dad died.

But the remaining lapras launches a Thunder into Posey that cooks his flesh, and her druddigon is tearing after Josey. Without Zekrom beside me, I ain’t got nothing to protect her with.

I grab two pokeballs at once. “Posey, return!” He zips into his pokeball, and the life support chirps. I shift on my feet to Josey. The druddigon barrels forward, and Josey’s sitting there dumbstruck as hell. She don’t even blink when it closes in. I throw my pokeball. “JOSEY!”

The Darkrai peels out of her shadow like an apparition and engulfs the druddigon in a huge Dark Pulse. The dragon roars and pushes through.

Her Darkrai takes a bad beating. It’s so small compared to the dragon laying into it, and Josey’s still staring, face ashen and tears streaking down her cheeks. It’s like she don’t even realize what’s going on no more.

“Buzzkill!” My vullaby I ain’t had the chance to properly train takes to the air. “Whirlwind!”

Her wings are still so small, but she packs a punch. Buzzkill trills and whips a great whirlwind that howls between us all. The druddigon bellows and keeps lashing, but it can’t fight the wind and the Darkrai both. The Darkrai is lighter—it flails as it’s swept away, and Josey snaps from her stupor. She lunges and grabs the pokemon; its claws sink into her forearm and digs up dark blood.

The druddigon, too Outraged and unable to stop attacking, can’t keep its feet on the ground. It howls as it’s whipped away into red light and vanishes into its pokeball.

“Josey!” She looks at me, face awash in terror and holding onto a goddamn minor legendary. Where the hell is she getting these things? I wave her off. “Get out of here!”

“Thunder!”

The city is awash in a thunderstorm of Zekrom’s making. It was helping us, but now, Iris takes its strength for herself. There’s no way to help my vullaby. Lightning tattoos on my eyelids as, with perfect accuracy, her lapras torches the bird that saved Josey’s Darkrai.

Buzzkill falls limp and smacks on the ruined concrete. My heart palpitates, but for once, it’s all me. No rage. No fury. No storms of injustice. It’s just me and the sharp stab of grief, and it’s strange to be relieved to feel such a thing.

My heart keeps fluttering. It skips beats, and for one horrible moment, I realize I’d forgotten what Zekrom’s magnetism had done for my wretched, weak heart.

I don’t wait to see if Josey listens to me. I grab another pokeball, and I cry, “Wiggles!” My eelektross is sleek in the pouring rain. Iris ain’t smoking anymore. She’s drowned in wet clothes, panting raggedly, clutching at her core like something’s been ripped out of her. “Thunder!”

“Hydro Pump!”

Wiggles worms his way around the powerful, messy attack. Our attack hits true, and the lapras keens in agony. Its chin hits the concrete, and a shroud of electricity crackles over it. Paralyzed! God, what a stroke of luck—

“Hydro Pump!”

I jolt. The gout of water shoots out from the pokemon with the force of a fire hose. Wiggles is blasted into the dirt, and though the wind’s been knocked outta him, he squirms up ready for more. “Iris!” I shout. She can’t be serious, can she? Dark red blood chokes from her lapras’s throat. There’s no way it can take another hit like that. I’ll kill it. “Iris, you’ve gotta stop! Yield!”

“I won’t give in to someone like YOU!” she screams back, and I ain’t never seen nobody so consumed with rage before. Her wild eyes dart like a cornered animal, but then I realize—she’s looking for Josey. For one panicked moment, I look too, but I don’t see her. “Hydro Pump!”

My jaw clenches. “Double Team!” Wiggles vibrates and illusory duplicates fill the field. The jet of water pulverizes one, and her lapras gags. It vomits sickly pink water into the concrete.

“Iris, you’ve gotta stop this!” I run several steps closer to the quaking water type. “You’re killing ‘em! You’ve gotta stop!”

“I won’t!” she screams. Her tiara is knocked askew. Her white skirt is muddied and stained. “I am the absolute ruler who will change the world!” She’s belligerent and gone. I don’t know why I’m wasting my breath, but gods, it’s so hard to fight someone that’s like some wild thing that needs put out of its misery. It’s so hard to fight someone who’s willing to kill their own for victory. “Hydro Pump!”

The lapras keens. Its head lolls. It can’t muster up no more energy for her. Wiggles and I approach, and it forces Iris back. I kneel and put my hand on the lapras’s neck, and the pokemon is wheezing, throat rattling with exertion. It don’t even flinch from me, just stares up with glistening brown eyes.

I hold out the killing blow, and Iris shrieks at a glass-splintering pitch. She throws her last on the field, the druddigon that’s already taken a beating. This battle is in the bag. I know Wiggles is packing enough heat to tear right through its hide, but I don’t want to kill it.

I remember Zekrom’s words, resigned and bitter, asking me, Can you reach her? And looking at her here and now, I know I can’t.

“Outrage!”

I sink heavily on my heels. “Thunder.”

The blast tears through her dragon before it can close the distance. It’s already taken damage from a minor legendary, and it can’t take this. I watch her poor druddigon collapse in the street across from us, and I’m so tired.

“NO!” I watch her howl and tear at her hair. There ain’t nothing left of her. This is the woman that tore through the gym track with a vendetta bloody enough to terrorize her enemies and allies alike. There was no talent here. No finesse. No shred of the fine-tuned power and skill she once held. She’s staggering in the rain, half screaming, half sobbing as she shrieks, “I’m this region’s champion! I can’t be bested by someone with only six badges! I can’t accept this! This isn’t possible!” Her gasps suck wetly, and I’m sitting like a frightened fool, cowering behind Wiggles and a dying lapras. “I can’t lose to some nobody undertaker and an idealistic fool who can’t even finish a battle!”

The pouring rain is cleansing. It’s put out Reshiram’s fire that’s razed so much of the city. The smog is clearing, but Iris is drowning. I reach out a hand.

“Iris, it don’t gotta be this way. We ain’t gotta kill each other like this—”

“Oh don’t we?” Her voice rises and splinters. “Don’t we?” She laughs, but it’s wretched with tears. “You’re NOTHING in this world if you don’t have the power to show for it! You’re nothing! Just a stupid girl! Always second rate! Always second best! Never as good as your brothers! Never queen of the land!”

She turns on me with wild eyes. Her fists clench, and Wiggles chitters with warning. “Oh no, no no no no, not you. Fucking pussy-soft bitch!” She pulls a knife, and I start. I can’t believe the way she stomps toward me as if there ain’t a hundred pound, hundred gigawatt eelektross between me and her. “I know you!” she howls at me, and the lightning flashes above her. “Can’t kill a pokemon! Can’t kill a human! You’re weak!”

I leap to my feet, heart hammering. My hand flashes to my side where the Triad member’s knife sank into my skin. “Iris, wait,” I stammer, and Wiggles is growling, but he don’t attack—not until I tell him to. But I can’t. I can’t attack her. I can’t kill her, and she giggles. She lurches over and clutches her stomach, and her tiara falls and clinks on the concrete.

“Oh isn’t that just RICH!” She looks up at me past heavy curls of hair. All that wild energy coalesces to one razor-sharp point, and I rasp on terrified air. My heart is racing like it’s about to burn to a stop. “Oh if only daddy could see me now,” she says, and she rushes at me.

She takes three steps and wrenches on a cry. She stumbles and topples in the middle of the street. I yank in a wet gasp. Through the rain, I see a dark blur. I flinch backwards, and Wiggles darts closer to me, but the Triad member don’t look at us. The remaining one leaps on her body, and now, I see it—

Iris is flat on her back with a knife in her throat. I ain’t even seen it hit her. She’s convulsing in fear, and she grapples for her own blade, but he kicks it away. Even above the din of the rain, I can hear him clear as day snarling, “This is for Cilan!”

His blade falls. I choke when Iris’s body goes limp. He yanks out the knife and raises it again.

Wiggles wraps around me. He blocks my line of sight and holds me tight, but I can still HEAR it. I clutch at Wiggles, smothered by terrified gasps and hot tears.

Then, it’s silent. I’m shaking like a leaf in the wind and hearing him gasp raggedly. The thunder rumbles above. Then, he screams. Wiggles lets go of me and whips around, electricity crackling dangerously down his flank. The Shadow Traid member ain’t even looking at us. He’s still sat atop Iris’s body, her red red body and red red clothes on red red concrete. His hands are red. He screams and screams at the sky until his voice is raw and he’s out of breath.

It stops again. I stare at him behind the defense of Wiggles, and a hand touches my shoulder. I cry out and wrench away, but they say, “Hugh,” and through blurry vision, I see Drayden Ajit. He looks exhausted, similarly soaked to the bone, but he’s gently tugging me to my feet. “Come on, son,” he says like a solemn grandfather. “You’ve done enough. Let’s get you out of here.”

He pulls me up. My legs are so weak and wobbly I can barely stand on my own two feet. I walk three steps before, of all things, I remember. I remember my promise to Molly. No, not to Molly. To me. I need this. I always needed this.

I dig in my heels. “Wait!” I wrench around to the Triad member. They don’t even look at us, consumed with their own shit until I press, “Hey! You! Hey! Hey, I’m talking to you!” He drags his head up to me. He stares like he sees right through me. “Please,” I say, and my voice cracks. I’m gonna shatter at any moment now, but I press on. “Mittens. He’s—He’s a purrloin—” Is he? “A purrloin, liepard, with—with white paws, little white paws like snow. I was told—I was told a Triad member had him, he’s—Mittens, with little white mittens—”

There’s this long moment where Drayden has me by the shoulder and the last of the Shadow Triad stares at me. Then, they stand. They reach a red hand into their pocket. They pull out a pokeball.

“Take it.” They toss the ball, and it rolls across the concrete to me. The rain washes the shiny plastic of blood. They drop the knife. Their shoulders slump. They look to the sky, where the Original One disappeared. “Three in one,” he murmurs. “They’re whole. And I . . .”

They look at their hand. I think of Kyurem, empty, hollow, and alone. The Shadow Triad member turns. They walk from the scene, and I don’t stop them. Drayden don’t stop them.

The rain is soothing. It reminds me of Zekrom. Somehow, in my sleep-deprived, trauma-stricken, addle-brained state, I can’t help but notice how it feels like someone’s scooped a part of my core out. Zekrom is in the clouds, in the lightning above, in my blood, and they feel like a distant echo I can never reclaim. How can I miss them like this? Why do I miss them?

Drayden’s hand is on my shoulder. He gives me a gentle shake. “Hugh?”

My heart is stabbing in pain. My knees wobble. I turn and look at him, and I see it, in his gaze. All that pity and worry. And the only thing I can manage to say is, “I’m so tired,” right before I collapse into him.

***​

Opelucid City is silent in the wake of destruction.

When Drayden comes back carrying Hugh, I fear the worst. I left him at ground zero with Iris. I ran and fled like the coward she knew I was. (I left all my pokemon, dead, in the street—) And I think, Did she—? Is he—?

But he’s not dead. He’s breathing, and hurt. His side is bleeding where all the activity has ripped his stitches right open. So Drayden and Uncle Marshal take us to the nearest hospital, because my arms are bleeding, and my hand is throbbing in pain where Uncle Marshal pulled the glass out. My good hand won’t let go of his. I can’t let go of him, because I’m afraid he’s the only thing keeping me functioning.

It’s funny, how I feel the loss of Kyurem. I thought they were like a black hole, sucking away everything I was, but now that they’re gone? I’m still so empty.

The hospital is a mess. There’s so many people piled inside for refuge it’s hard to walk around. It’s cold as fuck in the air conditioning while we’re wet from the rain. They’re going to leave Hugh and me in a waiting line full of people with similar lacerations until I mention his heart. Then they suddenly worry him fainting is a bigger issue. They whisk him back and make room for him god knows where.

Uncle Marshal and I find a corner. Drayden leaves to do whatever he has to do as mayor and gym leader of the city. Professional shit. I dig past Lumiere’s iron body in my pack to the medical tape I have. Uncle Marshal unwinds the old wraps, disinfects with the expensive whiskey, and bandages me up again.

His hands are gentle. His words are soft when he murmurs, “I’m so sorry, Josey.”

“It’s fine.” The words are stiff through numb lips.

“It’s not fine, Jose,” he says, and my heart pangs when he drops the y with tender familiarity of rarely used nicknames. “You shouldn’t have had to do any of that. I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you.”

“It’s no big deal.”

“It is.” His voice gains a hard edge when I don’t accept his apology, but his hands remain kind. “Jose, you shouldn’t have had to fight a war that wasn’t yours. You’re just a kid.”

I frown. “I’m grown.”

“You’ll always be a little girl to me,” he says, and he ties off my bleeding hands. He holds them, squeezing too tightly with his concern, and it makes them throb. It hurts, but it feels good to feel at least something.

I don’t know how to make him feel better. I offer, “I had Kyurem. I had to.”

“But why?” and he grits this between his teeth. Shakes his head. “Why you? It’s a bloodline thing, right?” He looks at me with dark brown eyes, and there’s anguish tearing at him. “We’re blood, Josey. If the damn thing needed someone of our bloodline, then why didn’t it pick me? Why’d it have to be you? I . . .”

There’s nothing I can say to him. He reaches out and bunches me close, and I curl into his warmth, trying to escape the cold air that surrounds me. He chafes my arms and back and leans his cheeks on top of my head. I very studiously ignore the broken pokeballs in my pockets. Mr. Sandman’s weight lurks in my shadow, and it’s strange to find the presence of the Darkrai I’ve been trying so hard to get rid of as a comfort.

I’m bundled up with Uncle Marshal so long my heavy eyes are drooping, but then I hear the gossip spreading through the hospital. Everyone’s talking in hushed tones about the Hero of Ideals. How he freed the people being held prisoner by Shauntal in the city. How he stood up against the violence. They’re all abuzz about his strength when he came in riding on Zekrom. I can even pick out one girl giggling with her mom about how handsome he was.

I lift my head. I smack Uncle Marshal’s stomach with my knuckles. “Do you have any money?”

“What?”

“Vending machine.”

He’s handing me some change by the time I remember I actually have fucking wads of money in my pack, but I don’t hand it back. I pick my way across the room slowly, keeping my ears peeled for chatter:

“He stood up to Iris, didn’t you hear? They had a battle in the city, and he won!”

“He defeated Iris?”

“Is he going to be our next Champion? He’s so kind, we need that leading us.”

“Did anyone see where Zekrom went? Did he leave with it?”

“I heard he was being treated here! Didn’t Drayden bring him in?”

“I saw him! I know it was him!”

“You don’t know shit, Joey. Stupid rattata for brains.”

It’s funny. I slip coins into the vending machine, musing about how I’ve already been erased from the story. No one knows anything about some random undertaker trying to stand up to Iris. They’re focused on their Hero of Ideals come swooping in to save the day. A candy bar thunks to the bottom of the machine, and I get another for Uncle Marshal.

I don’t know if I’m relieved or not that I’m being erased from history, just like Kyurem was. I guess it’s a good thing. Less questions. Less attention. Hugh deserves the praise. I wouldn’t want to be front and center anyways.

When I bring the candy bars back to Uncle Marshal, I share, and we drain the last of the whiskey while we wait for an update on Hugh.

***​

I wake in a hospital, groggy and aching with pain, but comforted by the sound of the rain.

I peel my eyes open. My shirt’s gone. I’m wearing one of those ugly hospital gowns that don’t cover nothing. There’s stickies on my chest. A monitor is beeping at me.

“Hugh?”

Next to me is Josey. Opposite the room is Uncle Marshal. They both look like they’ve slept as much as me, but relief makes my heart drop heavy.

I’m exhausted and hurting and laid up in a hospital bed, but I find a smile for her. “Hey, Josey. Hey.”

Her lips press against a quiver. “Hugh.” She don’t say nothing more, she just crawls in the gurney and lays down. I scoot over so she can get in here with me. She lays her head on my shoulder and sinks into me like a stone.

“Hey, it’s okay. We’re okay,” I say, even though it’s not. She lost her whole team. She faced Iris Asiriu for me. We have a whole host of traumas we’re trying to ignore, but for this one moment, she lays on me as heavy and cold as the dead.

“I’m sorry I left you,” she says, and she sounds so tired and empty. My heart squeezes tight.

“I told you to run.”

“I shouldn’t’ve.”

“No, you did the right thing, Josey.”

I rub her back, trying to chafe some warm friction into her body. Is that why she’s been so cold? Because she had this extra, cold dragon? I look at Uncle Marshal, but he can’t meet my eyes across the room. His shoulders are slumped. He looks old.

It all feels surreal. To be sitting in this hospital room with Uncle Marshal whipped, Josey banged up and dead inside, and me, where I’m at. I just went on this journey to find Mittens. The battling? A perk, a old childhood dream that never fully died. But now I’m here, and I see my things on the table, and I’ve got Mittens, but ain’t nothing right. It’s all wrong.

I wanted a piece of my dad. I love him. And it feels so wrong that I’m here, stabbed, ribs broken, struck by lightning with another dead pokemon to show for it. Why should I ever want a piece of my deadbeat dad? The man who beat my mama? The man who disowned me when he found me kissing a boy? He was a piece of shit with a temper who pretended he was great for being a pokemon ranger.

But he was a good man too. He always kept food in our mouths. He always made sure we had every opportunity in life he could give us. He taught me how to never give up, how to stick to my beliefs and realize that I was a force who could change the world. He was a hero on the job. He sacrificed everything for others, including his own life—

Just not for his family. He did his best to tear us apart. Maybe it’s for the best he died and all that’s left of him is a liepard trained to be a killer.

My throat squeezes up tight. It hits me now that I ain’t know how I got here. Wrong place at the wrong time? I think of Nimbasa, standing in that street with Josey who didn’t sound nothing like herself square between Truth and Ideals. Was that where it went wrong? If I hadn’t got involved then, would I be whole now? Still blissfully ignorant on my journey? Hot tears sting my eyes. Or was that Colress’s plan from the start? He wanted me to have Zekrom. He never cared at all.

Then, I’m gone. I start sobbing like I can’t stop it, and Josey’s arms come around me. She don’t say nothing, and she’s colder than a witch’s tit, but she’s solid and comforting. I curl up into her, crying my eyes out, and she bunches me up and lets me. Me, when she done had her whole goddamn team slaughtered and been dealing with her own feral dragon all on her own.

The fit’s longer than I want it to be. I’m clutching at Josey and crying it all out til I ain’t got nothing left and my heart monitor is beeping alarmingly fast. And Josey finally says, “Hugh, can you take a deep breath? You’re scaring me.”

Of course. My heart’s weak and unstable, and if I get too worked up, I’ll probably give myself a damn heart attack. So I stopper what’s left of it up and smear snot and tears on my hospital gown. I take a deep breath and control it.

“Sorry,” I rasp. I feel rattled and broken, like I’ve swept up pieces of broken pottery and shoved it all in a bag to glue it together later.

“You don’t need to apologize,” Josey says. She kisses my forehead, and the gesture is immensely comforting to me. “It’s been a fucky couple of months.”

We lay there together, and eventually, the body heat we share cuts the cold. My eyes grow heavy again after a long day, and a long night. I should ask how my heart’s doing, but Josey and Marshal don’t seem stressed about it, so I must be all right. Instead, I curl up with Josey, aching for some semblance of peace and finding it briefly in Josey’s arms.

I’m close to sleep when I feel her move. She shifts out of the bed and tries to lay me down, but I open my eyes. “Wait, where you going?”

“I can’t sleep here,” she says, and she’s swimming in the bags under her eyes. “Darkrai,” and she taps her toe on the floor. “You’ll just have bad nightmares.”

“Then stay,” I blurt, too afraid of her going away yet. I sit up and rub my eyes. “I’m awake. Stay.”

Josey seems like she wants to say otherwise, but she don’t. She just sits on the bed with me and holds my hand. It feels good to have her here. My body feels heavy with exhaustion, and it’s nice to get a moment to rest.

“My pokemon?” I ask softly. I remember the chirp of Posey’s life support. I don’t think I could do without Posey.

“Safe,” she mumbles. “Healing. Posey stabilized.” There’s an ache in her voice I can’t heal. I squeeze her tight.

A knock sounds on the door. I jump and crush Josey’s hand, but she just blinks blearily at the noise. Uncle Marshal lifts his head. “It’s probably Drayden,” he says, but he don’t offer the man in. He looks at me, like I’ve got some say in this since it’s my hospital room.

I clear my throat. “Come in!”

Drayden closes the door behind him. His white shirt is soot smeared. He nods his head at us, and he looks at me and says, “Mr. Matisse. It’s good to see you awake.”

“Thanks,” I say. I wriggle into a sitting position on the bed, wincing when my side is aggravated by the motion. “Is everybody okay?”

“It seems like casualties are miraculously small,” Drayden says. “For that, we’re thankful. The cosmetic damage to the city is great, but we can rebuild.”

I frown. “What’s the problem then?” I’m sensing a but in his sentences that he’s hesitating over.

Drayden rocks back on his heels. He pulls out a handkerchief and wipes the sweat on his brow. “How’s your health?” he asks me instead.

I look at Josey. She drops her head and looks at Uncle Marshal. “They’ve ordered Hugh to bed rest,” he says. “His heart is having trouble beating ever since he was struck by lightning. Stabbed in the side, but they say the wound was clean and should heal in a month or two. Same with his cracked rib. It’s really his heart they’re worried about. They want to recommend him to an expert in Icirrus City.” He looks at me, and he says, “Your ma and sister are on their way.”

I flush at that. “Of course.” There ain’t no way my mama would sit back while something’s happened to me. If she been spending the money I wire back frugally, then she’ll have enough for train tickets up here.

Drayden sighs. He rubs his temple before folding the handkerchief and putting it away. “I should have expected this,” he says softly. I swallow around something foreboding.

“What’s happening?” I ask.

He takes a deep breath, and in the wake of my wild seesaw of emotions, I feel . . . almost stable, in a way. Drayden is truthful and warm, if stern. It’s a reassuring feeling. Josey, curled up by my side, is reassuring.

Drayden’s eyes are hard flints. “You are Unova’s Hero of Ideals,” Drayden tells me. “You saved the city. You fought the Hero of Truth and came out on top. You defeated the Champion,” and his eyes flick to Josey, who shrinks, “albeit with help.” His gaze pins heavy on me, and I suddenly feel the weight on the world settle on my shoulders.

“The people have chosen who they champion,” Drayden says. “They’ve rallied around your name, Hugh Matisse. They want you to lead us into the future.”

Updating REAL quick before work, christ, sorry if there's errors, but i've had such a bitch of a time trying to write this goddamn chapter that i'm just relieved it's finally out there. so much i hate about it, though there's some bits that are all right in the end. just need to get over this hump and keep us going, more than anything i GOTTA finish gitm. also, hugh is best boy, best boy i've ever written, he deserves all the world and more, that's why i'll eventually yeet him through a wormhole into retirement and true love
 

Magicforbeginners

Generally Incompetent
Pokédex No.
2001
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
37
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Draws, writes, lives. Poorly, but always improving.
I miss one gd update and suddenly everyone's dead, at least I get some Hugh POV to make me happy

I cannot wait to see how this all wraps up, and I cannot wait for these two to get the happy ending they deserve. (And may I say how neat it is that you've managed to get so far? Writing's hard, finishing a massive project is harder, I applaud the entirety of this fic).
 

Thirteenth

Number XIV
Writer
Pokédex No.
14
Caught
May 20, 2019
Messages
218
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Ice
Pokédex Entry
The reason she guides people all the way down to the mountain's base is that she wants them to hurry up and leave.
I don't even know where to start with a comment, so I guess I'll start at the beginning? A friend recommended this to me two months ago or so, and I've been chipping away at it since. Well, I say chipping away but I binged like half of this over the past few days. Josey was admittedly hard to get behind at the start, but I kept hearing such good things about this run and, having read Silver Linings, I knew you'd end up taking this somewhere insane—which, YEAH. But what finally made me get behind Josey was that Cheren battle, which makes me laugh because she'd probably hate that (though she's got so much more weighing her down now than she did back then :')).

So, Josey. Tough bitch, does not deserve all the shit she's gone through, she better be getting some good retirement just like Hugh, okay. She's got Ingo so she'd best be set for the rest of her days. There are a few different moments about her that have really stuck with me while reading, but I think the biggest ones were her pulling the plug on her mom and when she cried over the photos of her family. The latter one got me kinda choked up and I'm not one to get teary when I read, so kudos. And the former... Damn. Idk, I felt like that was a decision she... needed to make, you know? For her mother to have been out for so long, for her to put her own life on hold for her when her mother was basically dead... I feel for her. And while Josey acted fairly matter-of-fact about it at the time iirc, it was clear that she cared for her mother and wanted her back. That gets more apparent as the story goes on, when we see her missing all her family, her father, her Golem...

God, Golem. My jaw dropped when he was killed, and Mittens was like, oh just twist the knife a little why don't you. He was so good and precious and sweet and deserved it least of all 😭 None of her Pokemon deserved their fates, and Seraph kicking it hurt most after Golem, but goddammit Golem.

You know who else really doesn't deserve what they got? HUGH. God fucking dammit, I love that boy. Loved him from the second he first appeared, to the point that—since I hadn't grown to love Josey yet—I kinda wished he was the protagonist instead. Good sweet boy with a perfect smile and now he's literally heartbroken. Please fix his heart. Let him live a good long life with his family.

Oh, and speaking of family: I love the angle that you've taken with that. Not in regards to lineage or anything like that (though I thoroughly enjoyed the role that played in the story) but just... that sense of belonging and care and knowing that there are some people you just have a place with. Alder said something to Josey about her being like family because Marshal was family and I felt that. I just heard my own dad telling me about close family friends that were basically family too, that even though I'd met those people once I could go to them if I ever needed something. Idk it just all resonated with me.

(Adding this in here a little messily before I post, but I also appreciated how on one hand, you have people trying to reconcile with their families and hold tight to the family they still have—Josey, Hugh, even Marshall—and then you have people fighting and killing their family—Iris, the Shadow Triad, basically everyone in Unova's fucked up history. I don't know if juxtaposition is the correct word to use here, but it was a little fascinating to note.)

SPEAKING OF. JOSEY AND HUGH. Oh my heart, you just squeezed it in that one chapter where they were yelling at each other as not-themselves, Hugh basically killing himself at the last moment, how tender they were with each other on the way to hospital and that same tenderness now in the last chapter 😭😭😭 I'm a fucking sucker for relationships like that, be they platonic or romantic or whatever they just. get me right in the heart and they're so good...

I know I'm coming in real late on this story, but I'm glad I managed to catch it right before the end. It's been a joy to read.
 

SayleeK

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
92
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
Hugh is the best boy in the world and I would absolutely vote for him but also, goddamn, like...

This is so intense. Unova's been wracked with destruction and I don't blame the people wanting a hero to rally around but we're seeing all of this from the perspective of two exhausted, broken, grief-stricken young folks who are barely more than kids and they got dragged into this huge, horrible fight and lost so much to it. I'm so glad they can cuddle and feel better again because holy shit, you two, holy shit

Iris getting ninja-shanked was SO satisfying and so frustrating because I was gonna have a whole subplot in EE where one of the Shadow Triad was murdered by [REDACTED] and the other two would ultimately kill [REDACTED] in revenge but now it'll feel like a ripoff of this, oh well that's what I get for being so slow to post EE and honestly I'm glad somebody who wasn't Hugh or Josey got to kill her? They've got nightmares enough coming. The Shadow looking at the three-in-one dragon and musing about how they are complete while the Shadows no longer are was so heartbreaking and bittersweet, though. Iris' breakdown was really sad, too, in a twisted, terrifying way. Big Azula vibes, y'know? Just gets down to screaming and crawling in the mud with a knife. Sad and horrible and satisfying and tragic in one big, messy, perfect death scene.

Colress gets what's coming to him for breaking the Best Boy's heart when

On the one hand, it's shit for Josey that nobody really knows what she did for Unova in saving the dragons; on the other, I know she couldn't cope with being The Hero. She's just a girl who wants to control her own life, and maybe with the wads of money from her dad and a better support network that doesn't consist solely of Hugh (though he is still Best Boy) she can do that now, without the mystery of her dad or an angry hungry dragon or a homicidal champion's wrath hanging over her head. I just want her to be able to relax and process everything and cry a lot in the arms of the various rich hot people who love her, y'know? I want Hugh to have that too. He just had one of the world's worst breakups and a very angry dragon fucking extensively with his head and saw a bunch of really grody deaths, I would like him to also have some time to hug Josey and his sister and his mama and Mittens and cry a lot and take deep breaths and not have any heart attacks before getting dragged into the spotlight. I think he'd cope with it better than Josey, but I still hope he'll get some time. I mean, Unova ABSOLUTELY will be better off with the Best Boy for their Champion, but let the boy live first!

God I love this story so fucking much
 

localhoney

~either i'm careless or i wanna get caught~
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
2002
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
146
Location
Miami, FL
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Electric, Poison
Pokédex Entry
Localhoney, the Sweet Toxin Pokemon. It's said that the sounds it emits can paralyze even a Gigantamax Grimmsnarl.
This chapter was so damn satisfying.

To echo Saylee, Iris getting shanked by one of the Triad and not putting more blood on Hugh or Josey's hands did make me happy, since those two are already spiraling as is. I thought it was really interesting that even after all the work that Josey put in to save the region and reunite the dragons, she's already been wiped from the history books. Almost like history repeats itself regardless of whether the dragons are around to put their foot in it or not.

I don't think I've ever been so excited to watch some falling action and wrap-ups. I just want Hugh and Josey to be able to heal and relax without some ridiculous historical pressure pushing them around. I don't know how Hugh plans on rehabilitating Mittens and how Josey's going to be able to go back to just being some undertaker without the fear of looking over her shoulder at every turn for something wild.

Champion Hugh though, that's something I can get behind for sure.
 

Whozawhatcha

i have too many projects
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
74
Nature
Lonely
Pokémon Type
Fire, Flying
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #210
@Magicforbeginners i cannot express how hard i laughed at "i miss one update and everyone is dead" because it's REALLY true! I think it's gonna take some time to wrap up, I think, given I want to give these poor babies time to digest and adjust in healthy ways, but that just means more bonus chapters I guess. (Ahh, thank you! Sometimes it's been hard and I've been worried I won't finish, but now I'm CONVINCED I'll finish.)

@Thirteenth whoo DOGGIES what a fucking COMMENT! Also, kudos to you absolutely binging this like a madwoman, major props, cause there's kind of a lot of chapters and they're pretty long by nuzforum standards too. I'm actually kinda glad to hear Josey was hard to get behind? She's really not an easy protagonist, but I'm glad you ended up warming to her. I think, against all things and how she likes to distance herself, her sun and moon rise and set on family every time.
Goooood, it's been such fucking ages since I read the chapter where Golem dies. So many of her pokemon deaths hit hard. Though Golem and Seraph were high teir upsetting deaths for me, I think Magnets was the one that hurt the most, I just remember being SO UPSET when Magnets died against Iris. HUUUUGH!! <3 Oh Hugh is my good golden boy and I love him so much. (And I think you might like the next several chapters, because he deffos gets more of a spotlight.)
I'm so glad you've keyed into a lot of the heart of this story and that it's effecting you in the right way. Sincerely glad to have you along for the remainder of this ride! (Tbh, not a bad time to pick it up and binge, I'm eta at no more than 40 chapters tops, I think. I think I can wrap it up by then.)

@SayleeK you're back!! and with another CRUSHING comment, whew! Yeah, it's been real fun to come at this from the perspective of "this is the person people are rallying around because clearly they're good rally material, but really they're so fucked they can barely hold themselves together". Also, I think I'm going to print this out and hang it on my bedroom wall. Iris -- big Azula vibes. Like, way to flatter, what a fucking high tier comment, comparing my goddamn villain to AZULA.
Colress? me deal with him? maybe.
And yes, I think this is why my falling action is going to contain more chapters than anticipated, because they REALLY need time to digest and adjust to things. I've been looking forward to this chapter in particular for a while, so I just happened to get it cranked out real fast after you and 13th slammed me with writing-inspiring comments, haha. I only loosely have idea for how the next chapters need to go, so they're gonna be much harder to write, but I think they'll be worth it.

@localhoney i think it's interesting that Josey just lays down and allows the "being erased from history" to happen, and even in some ways encourages it later on. And yeah, I couldn't let Iris live, and that last little Triad member just yeeted himself into that scene. I also like how cognizant? The Triad members are? Like, Hugh technically killed one of them too, and I thought that would tip him off to attack Hugh, but then he didn't. I think they kinda get that the dragons are fucky and in charge of the Chosen, and not the other way around. Definitely hope the falling action chapters will live up to your expectations!

“Do we need somebody just to feel like we're alright?
Is the only reason you're holding me tonight
'Cause we're scared to be lonely?”

Scared To Be Lonely __ Martin Garrix



“They told me to prepare a speech, but, I ain’t really had much time to myself with everything that’s been going on the past two weeks, health issues non-withstanding, so I’m just gonna pants this and hope for the best.

It was sort of accidental that Zekrom chose me, I think. My friend was out on that street between Truth and Ideals, so I got in the fray. When N died, I think Zekrom had to make a snap decision to replace him. I was the closest one with a bloodline link, so I had to do.

I think people have got misconceptions about how being a Chosen of the dragons works. It felt less like a partnership and more like a yoke. Sure, I could direct them a little, but it was more power than I could really control, y’know? Zekrom was . . . It felt like their power poured through me like water through a funnel, but there was so much water that it overflowed even though I was directing the stream. I could command them, but sometimes they commanded me. Like their influence colored everything I did.

That’s why we almost razed Humilau City. Zekrom was mad, I mean spitting nails evil after they lost N and knew that Marlon was complicit in allowing Neo Plasma to hide in the city. At that point, Zekrom was driving. I was just doing all I could to control them, and eventually, I think I did. Was like riding a bull. Zekrom’s a creature beyond what I think humans can really understand. They’re practically a god. To be chosen to work with them was an honor, even if it was terrifying.

So once I figured out how to coincide with Zekrom, it was just a matter of doing the right thing. Whether I wanted it or not, I was picked as the Hero of Ideals. I had to do something, and this happened right around when Opelucid City was being frozen top to bottom, so I got in the fray. I tried to deal with Neo Plasma, I tried to deal with the Shadow Triad, and I tried to deal with Iris Asiriu. I tried to stop the violence. I still ain’t know if I done that well or not.

Yes, Grimsley did work under orders to try and kill me in the Lacunosa hospital. No, we ain’t know where he gone off to. Yes, Shauntal chose to side with Iris and helped keep the citizens of Opelucid trapped as hostages. Yes, there’s a third Shadow Traid member rogue, and we ain’t know where he gone. Yes, we’re rooting out the last of the Neo Plasmas. Former Plasma Sage Rood has been a great informant for us. We learned—We learned Colress Achroma was the scientist working for the Neo Plasmas that created the blimp and the cannon that razed Opelucid City. He’s at large as well, but we’ll find him. I’ll find him myself if I gotta.

Everyone’s been asking where the dragon’s gone off to. Everyone’s asking if there’s a third one, and if there really was a Wish Maker. Yes, there was the third dragon of ice, and that’s what was exploited to freeze Opelucid. Yes, there was a Jirachi come down from space. Three wishes were used, and the last was used to wish the three dragons whole. The Original One is out there somewhere, but they’re their own dragon now. I ain’t in charge. I ain’t got that immediate connection like I did with Zekrom. I think it’s for the best I don’t. I think it’s too much power for one person to have.

So . . . I guess it’s real flattering, but mostly terrifying that everyone’s rallied so fast around me. I know I was pretty popular as a gym challenger, but I’ve gotta repair my team again. I still gotta battle Drayden properly for my 7th badge, and whoever the League chooses to appoint for the 8th gym in the interim. If I’m gonna be your Champion one day, I ain’t wanna just be it because of a bloodline. I wanna earn it. I wanna know that I’m deserving of it and deserving of your faith in me.

The League has alotta rebuilding to do, but I think it’ll be good in the long run. I agree that gym battling is brutal and bloody, just like Team Plasma said, but I ain’t think we gotta separate from pokemon. I value my pokemon more and more, especially after they protected me in the end. I ain’t wanna pit them in battles where we’re supposed to kill each other’s partners. We’ve proved time and time again with a little more skill and cognizant effort, that we ain’t gotta kill when we battle. I’m proud to say I ain’t killed a single pokemon on the gym track yet. I’m glad the Battle Subway has such a good track record so far. Battle reform IS working, and I’ll let you know now, if I become Champion, I’ll be pushing for it. I ain’t want people to lose the pokemon they love so much. I ain’t want battling to be terrifying. It should be a fun sport for everyone to improve and grow closer to their pokemon.

And maybe I’m just some idealistic fool, but . . . I’m tired of the violence. I’m tired of the death. I seen my fair share of it. I’m still having the nightmares about it. And I ain’t want the next generation to have to deal with it. I want a kinder, softer world that’s more forgiving. I ain’t want this cycle of violence to continue, so I’m putting my foot down. I think it’s time we all chose to be kinder, and treat one another with love and compassion. I think that’s what’s gonna make our future a better one, and I promise I’ll do all I can to make it happen.

Um . . . Thank you. That’s what I wanted to say.”



***​

After three days, I leave Hugh in Opelucid City with Uncle Marshal and Drayden.

Maybe I’m a coward to the core to leave him again when he needs me, but I can’t deal with this shit. I can’t. I get my pokemon melted down, and I don’t want to keep the urns. I don’t want reminders that they’re dead, not when I have their fucking shattered pokeballs.

Uncle Marshal keeps them, because he’s a sentimental fool. I won’t be. Being a sentimental fool chasing a set of dog tags I never found is why I’m here in the first place. Fuck being sentimental. There’s no room in my heart left for it. Everything hurts even more than it did when I first started out on this bullshit. I guess you really do reap what you sow.

So I go home. I take a train back to Nimbasa City, and I keep up with Hugh by turning on the radio. Because they keep playing his fucking perfect speech everywhere, because Hugh’s fucking perfect. He can deal with all this shit and fucking bounce back no big deal. Hell can eat him up and he’ll come back as some phoenix that everyone loves and follows. No one remembers me. No one cares about me, but you know what, that’s just fine. I don’t want the attention anyways. I’m a cesspool of a human being. People would hate me anyways.

So I go home to an empty apartment because I told Uncle Marshal to watch over Hugh. And my food’s spoiled again other than my non-perishables, Ingo’s paid my rent again because I’m an ungrateful moocher, and now I have a whole fucking collection of broken pokeballs to join Golem’s.

My first two days home, I lay in bed. I sleep in snatches interspersed with nightmares because I have a goddamn Darkrai in my shadow, but I don’t care. The nightmares are hardly worse than real life, and at this rate, I’m not giving up Mr. Sandman. He can stay. He’s silent, doesn’t bother me, and his cold comfort is steady in the face of the unpredictable bullshit I’ve had to live through. Maybe I’ve grown fond of the bastard, who knows. But Mr. Sandman is mine, and I don’t want him to leave. Even though things are done, he doesn’t leave me. It’s nice to have at least someone who never leaves.

I don’t eat the first two days. I decompose on my bed for two full days not eating or drinking until finally, at about three a.m. I get up and go down to the nearest open corner store. I get a candy bar, hot coffee, and some sort of hot burrito. I eat, go back to bed, and get so sick that I almost throw it all up anyways.

It’s fucking hot as hell at the end of summer. I crank up my air conditioning to break the heat even though I shouldn’t run up my electricity bill.

Ingo contacts me three days in. He’s worried and wants to see me. He offers me that date, so I pick a day, send his travel dove back with a confirmation, and tell him to talk to his goddamn apartment people to let my ass up.

The night of, I stare at my shitty wardrobe. I don’t have cute clothes for a date. My summer dress is faded and looks like it belongs to a grandma. Heavy utility pants and wife beaters aren’t cute. My one black skirt looks like it belongs at a funeral. (The last time I wore it was at Papa’s funeral.) Of my two nice button ups, I grab the dark red one and roll up the sleeves. I put on my one nice pair of jeans that are less nice now that I’ve traipsed around the country in them.

I put on my black t-strap flats, the only shoes other than boots that I own. I take the time to actually roll my dreads and do some desperately needed upkeep of my hair, and wrap up in a head scarf. I’m not cute, but at least I’m acceptable. I doubt it’s really a date. It’s more like a therapy vent with some sex at the end, and the perk is the company is good.

When I get there, Emmet isn’t home. It’s just Ingo at the stove finishing up that chicken marsala he promised me. His face has healed like my hands and arms have; the scabbing of his split lip is fading to a faint scar. He’s relieved to see me and rushes across the room to hug me.

He’s wearing all black, and he looks very good with his collar unbuttoned. For once, I feel somewhat human since I’ve got home, sneaking peeks at his collarbones and feeling hungry, somewhere between sex and food.

We pop open the Chardonnay and he sets ceramic plates down on a pretty wood table with real goddamn silver silverware. They have flowers decorated on the handles, so I doubt it’s silverware he chose. He probably inherited a set like this from his grandma.

At first, he doesn’t pressure me about my bullshit. We eat, and he talks about unrelated things, like how he’s dealing with rerouting delivery trains around Opelucid since the tracks have been damaged out there. He talks about how the Battle Subway has had an influx of people in the wake of Hugh’s endorsement, and how they’re planning on expanding.

He talks about how his father is sick and getting worse, and how it’s likely that he’s going to inherit the business. He says Emmet never had the mind for it. He’s too much like their mother. But because he’s like their mother, he’s always been the better battler. Ingo tells me how Alder has approached Emmet to see if he’d like to take a temporary position as part of the Elite Four, or even a permanent position.

The whole time, I’ve been almost silent listening to him and shoveling food in my mouth. I feel strangely disconnected from the mundanity of real life issues, but it’s nice hearing him talk and taking my mind off things. However, it’s here that I look up at him.

“Emmet?” I ask. This is the guy that broke like glass when Iris asked where I was. This is the guy that scrambled in his own apartment to stay out of her way. Emmet is flighty and hazy in my mind’s eye. I hold reservations about if he’s suited for the job, and instead say, “Is he going to?”

Ingo nods. He pours the last of the Chardonnay into my empty wine glass. “I think he will,” Ingo says. “My father is too sick to really control his decisions anymore. I’m glad Emmet can finally start to do what he wants.”

My cotton filled ears absorb this slowly. “Your dad doesn’t want him battling?”

Ingo’s gray eyes cut away from me. “He never has,” he admits. He turns his own wine glass restlessly on the table. “My mother was a gifted battler. Ingo gets it from her. I think my father hated reminders of her, which is why he kept Emmet and I so distant. So I hope Emmet does take the job. He doesn’t want to inherit the family business, and he has better talents elsewhere. I can manage it. Besides, I’m not sure what I’d do if I wasn’t inheriting the business.”

I drag my brain into coherency. There’s a lot to unpack here about Ingo, and for some reason, I’m unsurprised to hear about daddy issues from him too. Seems like this life is just full of fathers that can’t get their shit together. I want to ask about his mother, but I beat around the bush instead, asking, “The Elite Four always have a typing theme. What would Emmet pick?”

Ingo twirls his fork. “Bug, I think,” he says. “We have balanced teams, but Emmet runs a crustle and durant on his. I’ve got a galvantula I could loan out to him, and then he’d only need to raise two more to fit the bill. He’s always wanted to raise a scolipede, so it’d give him the excuse to finally catch one.”

I nod and look down at my plate that I’ve picked clean again. “Right. Makes sense.”

There’s a stretch of silence. I stall by draining my Chardonnay since I don’t know what to say.

“So are you going to tell me anything about what’s been going on, or should I just keep talking?”

My stomach tightens. “It’s really just a bunch of bullshit,” I mumble.

“Let’s move to the couch and open the whiskey.”

I don’t say no to that. He pours me a cold glass on the rocks, and the alcohol is smooth and warm when it goes down. Ingo looks fucking immaculate, and I wonder if I jumped his bones now if I could skip over airing all my bullshit.

“How about we go back and forth?” Ingo says. I blink at him, and he gives a tired smile and leans back. “You tell me one shitty thing, and I’ll tell you one shitty thing.”

“Oh this is gonna be a fantastic date.”

Ingo laughs. The sound is deep and swells in my ears. “Fucking right it will be.”

“We tell each other super depressing things and take a shot.”

“Hey now, we want to be awake to fuck afterward.”

He gets me then. I bark out a loud, ugly laugh and slap a hand over my mouth. “Now we get to the heart of the matter. Therapists with benefits.”

“You don’t have to say anything,” Ingo says suddenly, and he sobers to look at me. “But I’d like to know. I want to get to know you, you just make it hard sometimes.”

That makes me feel bad. I know I’m a hassle and a half to deal with, brutish and unlikable. I rub my feet on his plush carpet. “I wanted to be an archaeologist,” I finally blurt. “Needed to go back to school for the Master’s degree, but didn’t have the money, so I was busting ass trying to save.”

“Oh.”

He’s surprised. I nod and sip on the whiskey. “Yeah. Kept having to funnel money into hospital bills though, so I probably wasn’t ever going to get there realistically.”

“How much is it?”

“Enough to make even your pockets burn empty, big timer.”

His lips twist up in something that resembles a smile or a grimace. “Just trying to help.”

“That desperate to be a sugar daddy?”

Ingo frowns at me. “Don’t do that.”

I bite my lip against the venom. “Sorry.”

Ingo turns his drink in his palm. “Who was sick?”

I really want to close up to him, but it’d be a disservice to him to clam up now. He’s been nothing but honest and kind to me, even when I’m an asshole. I loosen my tongue. “My mom. She’s dead now.”

“Ah.” He looks away and rubs his neck. “I’m sorry to hear that.” I shrug in response. It feels sort of numb right now. I’d rather things feel numb than hurt. “What happened?”

He digs at that spot, and I find it’s not as numb as I think it is. I glower at him from across the couch. “What happened to back and forth?”

Ingo takes a deep breath. I watch him swallow all of this, and then, he asks, “How old are you?”

I tuck into the couch cushions. “Twenty-six. Why?”

“So you were seven. You probably don’t even remember.”

Shit. “Remember what?”

“My hometown is Anville Town,” he says, but he’s not looking at me anymore. His eyes are distant as he takes a swig of his whiskey. He rakes his hand through his hair, leans his head on his hand and sighs. “Nineteen years ago now, there was a bad train wreck. Shit was plastered all over the news, all over the papers, you couldn’t escape it no matter where you went.”

Faintly, he jogs something in my memory. Passing mentions of the Anville Town train wreck, even in later years when I heard about it. Huge tragedy. Hundreds dead.

“My mother was the train conductor,” Ingo says, and my heart squeezes. He gnaws on his bottom lip. “I was ten.”

“I’m sorry,” I say instinctively, but I mean it. I’m glad I mean it. I’m glad people can still elicit sympathy from me. It makes me feel human.

Ingo just nods. “She was . . . She was an excellent battler. That’s how my father first met her. She worked on train engines before she got promoted to conductor. A regular grease monkey that knocked my father down several pegs when she whipped him in battle.”

I think of his comment about his father distancing from his sons. Emmet makes sense. Emmet acts like his mother, has a personality like his mother. Ingo didn’t say, but I think he probably acts like his mother too, late night diving to work in the yard. I look at his blistered fingers holding an expensive glass tumbler. A regular grease monkey.

“Mine was a gym referee,” I suddenly say. “Rock Slide that went too wide. She was in a coma for years before I pulled the plug.”

He winces. “I’m sorry,” he says softly. “That had to be hard.”

I want to say it wasn’t. That it was easy to rack up hospital debt, that it was easy to get resentful, that it was easy to pull the plug on her. Instead, I just say, “Yeah,” and it feels like I’m admitting defeat.

Ingo and I bolster ourselves with more alcohol. I’m crunching on ice when he says, “What about your father?”

My back stiffens. That’s too fresh. That’s too raw, and I snap, “None of your fucking business,” before I can control it.

Ingo’s jaw works against his anger. I’m impressed at how well he bottles it up when he says, “You don’t have to say anything. I’m not strong arming you. I just want to help and get to know you without you being a sour pill about things.”

“What’s your deal anyways?” I spit at him. I glower in his direction. “You just want me because you finally see someone who’s lonelier than you?”

“Why do you always push me away when we have the chance to be closer?” he shoots back. I wince. “What are you afraid of?”

My teeth clack together. “Fine,” I snarl. “Fine then, I’ll tell you about my papa. That’s some fucked up shit and a half. Fill up my drink and I’ll just fucking spill, you know? Why not. Why the fuck not.”

A brow raises at me and overshadows the concern in his eyes. He pours me a drink, tops his own off, and then I start talking.

I tell him first how I got Mr. Sandman in my shadow, just to set the stage and let him know why I gave him a fucking Lunar Wing. I tell him about Quasar shooting from the sky. I tell him about the nightmares and how my father went missing in the Giant Chasm so long ago.

And for the first little bit, Ingo is an avid, proper listener. He’s giving soft, aghast gasps in the right places and asking the right questions. But then, I get to Kyurem. And the dragons. And the blood. And the murder. And the lack of sleep. Where I’ve been when he’s worried. The Triad threatening me. Iris threatening me.

Ingo goes silent as he listens, watching me with wide, hurt eyes. He refills my drink halfway through the shitstorm of a story, and I’m getting a little too fucking drunk, but you know what? I deserve it. I deserve to take a fucking load off, and I can get drunk if I want.

And when I’ve finished and talked myself empty again, my drink is frozen in my hand and the glass covered in frost, and I’m thinking, That’s impossible. Kyurem’s not in me anymore.

Ingo sets his empty glass aside. He takes mine away and plunks it on the coffee table. I start to bitch at him about it, but he doesn’t let me. He crawls across the couch to my side and wraps me up in a hug I can’t refuse.

My breath stutters. Fuck. He’s warm and smells good, and my torrent of words wash to a stop. I expect something pitying, like another apology, and how that’s so awful, and how he wishes he could do something for me, but there’s none of that. He’s dead silent and doesn’t bother with words that will fall short. After a long moment where I fight it, something boils up in me. It seizes in my lungs. Air bubbles squeeze up my throat and escape in gasps. I’m crushing Ingo to my chest, and it doesn’t dawn on me for a long, long moment that I’m sobbing.

And I cry for a long ass time. Because I thought I was numb, but I was playing myself. I was just trying not to deal with it all, because it’s easier to ignore shit like this than confront it. But now, I can’t stop it. The tears. Because I didn’t want to be sentimental about my pokemon, but I am. I couldn’t bear taking their remains with me, but I didn’t want to leave them, so I’m glad Uncle Marshal took them for me. My apartment is so, so fucking empty without them, and I’m aware even more of how fucking lonely a person I am. It’s consuming me from the inside out. It feels like a cold chasm that I can’t escape. It devours every little part of me until I’m just some shell of the person I used to be.

But for all of my own failings and shortcomings, Ingo is warm. He’s like a welcoming, summer breeze, and his heat thaws me, if little by little. If he doesn’t like how cold I am, he doesn’t say anything about it. I’m grateful for that. I bury into him and let him hold me. Some latent part of Kyurem rises to my mind, about half breeds, and Ingo might not be a perfect fit, but he’s damn close.

Once I stopper up the buckets of tears, Ingo finally peels away from me. I don’t want to let him go, but he only crosses across the room to get tissues for me. He comes back, and while I blow my nose, he gets water for both of us. “Water first,” he murmurs, and his voice sounds suspiciously rough. “Then another glass of whiskey.”

I grunt in agreement. We sit in silence, nursing our waters since I’ve cried myself dehydrated. Great date, Josey. Way to blow it. You cried about existential crises and loneliness and dead pokemon and a dead dad all in one night in front of this beautiful man. Way to fuck it up, you idiot.

The only thing I can offer up to cut the suffocating silence is, “Sorry I killed the mood.”

He hasn’t sat down on the opposite end of the couch. He’s right next to me when he says, “Let’s be honest, I pressed. I asked for it.”

“You kinda did.”

“Are you okay?”

Am I? Yeah fucking right. I drain the water fast to get my next drink, and when I do, Ingo pauses to do the same and match pace. I say, “Sure thing,” and watch him pour the whiskey.

I reach for my glass, but he catches my hands. I hold still and let him turn my hands over to where he can see the little scars peppered up my forearms, and where the stitches came out of my hand just yesterday, the tape still on the meaty part of my palm. He stares at my rough, work-worn hands that hold all my scars. I stare at him and his long lashes, the slope of his nose, and the part of his lips.

It feels odd, and strange, to know someone really, really cares about me. I try to let myself cozy up to the idea, but it’s hard. People don’t like me. People don’t want me. They don’t care about me. Ingo lifts the hand I used on Quasar, bows over, and kisses deep on my cut up palm. My breath hitches, and my stomach clenches. He bows over to kiss the other palm, and I swallow hard against the emotional lump he’s dredging up from me. Fucking romantic, empathetic shit. I just finished crying, shit, he’s gotta let up and let me recover.

He holds my hands and looks up at me. “I don’t think it killed the mood,” he says, and by god above, he must be as horny as me if THAT didn’t manage to kill the mood. The corner of his mouth twitches to smile and then fades. “I just . . . I wish I could have done something for you other than hold onto your Lunar Wing. I wish I could have helped protect you.”

“Yeah, well.” I don’t know what else to say to that. He’s holding my hands like they’re treasures and gently stroking my palms. I don’t know what to do with that kind of tenderness.

Ingo’s brows pinch. He struggles to say, “It’s not that . . . I know this isn’t . . . You’re just— . . . I want . . . I want . . .”

He strains over the word and what he’s trying to say. I nod for him. “It’s okay,” I say softly. Ingo looks up at me with those soft, storm-like gray eyes. My lips tilt with knowing sympathy. “I get it. The wanting.”

I want so much. I want my family. I want a better life. I want things like carbs and money and companionship. I want to stop hurting. I want to begin again. I want to leave history behind; I want to build monuments to it. I want to fill the holes in me, and I want to taste happiness again. I understand what it’s like to want things on a primal, deep level. I want so much that I’m afraid Ingo will never be able to fill me because I’ll never stop wanting.

But he’s willing to try. He’s willing to try to fill me up, because at the end of the day, I think we’re both excessively lonely people finding absolution in one another. Maybe that’s a bad thing. Maybe it’s not really love, but it doesn’t matter, does it? If we find something in one another that we need, and we can supply it, I’m okay with that.

Ingo leans in close and kisses me surprisingly soft but expectantly deep. I crave him so much I can’t control my hands. I’m pulling him close and pawing clumsily at his lean body, kissing myself empty while he gives kisses back with enough gusto to fill me. His hands are coarse as they cup my cheeks, and I can taste the whiskey on his tongue.

He does this fantastically talented thing where he unbuttons my shirt with one hand, while me, inelegant and rough, end up popping buttons off his expensive shirt. Judging by his low groan that catches in my mouth, he’s okay with this.

I grunt and peel my face away from his long enough to remember something important. “Wait,” I say, and shit, when the fuck did I yank him all the way into my lap? God I’m so stupid and hasty and horny. I stamp my foot on the ground. “Mr. Sandman, can you please fuck off until tomorrow.”

I know I’m not imagining the annoyed grumble as his shadow peels from under my feet. Ingo jumps when the dark shadow drifts across his floor and out the window somewhere.

He’s panting. His cheeks are flushed pink and his lips ripe. I want to bite on them. “That’s normal?” he asks. He licks his lips, and. Yes, okay, this is good, this is perfect.

“Uh, yeah,” I say, and I can’t think beyond that. I kiss him again. For some reason, there’s laughter in his kiss, and I don’t know why. Me? Sandman? Just the absurdity of everything? I end up laughing too for some reason, and it makes no sense, but for once, things feel good. “What the fuck, stop it.”

And Ingo laughs again, and he shakes his head, saying, “This is crazy,” but he only moves closer so I can feel every inch of him wrapped around me. He kisses me back and rasps, “We should really move to the bedroom.”

He ain’t gotta tell me twice. I pick him up and carry him there myself, and he must really like my physical strength, because he’s laughing with impish delight the entire way there.

And then Josey gets the type of fucking she deserves, the end.




But also, no seriously, I'm glad Ingo and Josey still have that odd sense of chemistry they've always had, even when all the traumatic things are over with. Ingo surprised me twice, not just because he has a sense of humor close to Josey's, but also because he ended up facilitating laughter in the end, which was really a blessing. I didn't expect this chapter to end with happier levity, but then it did, and I'm glad.
 

Missy

i left my heart in alola
Writer
Pokédex No.
94
Caught
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
99
Nature
Lax
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Tough
Pokédex Entry
just missy now
Hugh, on public radio: the manhunt for my shitty ex has begun. run while you can you dumb bastard

Also, this line slayed me:
I want things like carbs and money and companionship.
Carbs. Someone get this girl some pasta.

I'm intensely glad that Josey can finally find a mote of happiness amongst all this depressing mess. Maybe two sad, lonely people can make each other feel a little less lonely, and by "maybe" I mean they'd BETTER. They have too much in common and that's sad but also good for them. So long as Josey has people who understand her then I think she'll be okay. Plus, she and Ingo communicate in the same language. That language being childhood trauma, parental issues, and alcohol, but hey! It works. At least she gets a good fuck from a cute, rich pip.

Lastly, about the chapter that came before this one: it was excellent. Intense and scary and excellent. Iris had a big Azula moment, and then Hugh gets hospitalized again because he NEEDS IT. LET HIM REST HIS HEART CANT TAKE THIS.

give us a happy epilogue now you monster
 

SayleeK

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
92
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
On the one hand, it's gotta be so sad and shitty for Hugh to just keep finding out about more awful shit that Colress was responsible for and awful shit he was up to THE WHOLE TIME they were together. On the other hand, declaring open season on your awful ex in a nationwide broadcast is such a fucking power move. I can't blame them for being unable to stop running Best Boy's Best Speech. You go, Hugh!

I gotta say I gave so few fucks about Ingo and Emmet ingame that I didn't even know their damn names before I started reading this fic but Ingo, shit, Ingo's swept me away with how besotted he is with Josie and how much of her shit he's willing to put up with. I think I mentioned this back when I started reading, but to the end, I utterly love that Josey is the kind of asshole that male characters get away with being all the time in mainstream fiction. Like, she cares about Ingo too, much as she wishes she was done giving a shit about people! She's just kind of an asshole. But he's okay with that, because that's not all she is, and everything else she is is worth it. After days of depression slouching in her flat alone except for her spooky nightmare shadow fren, I'm glad Ingo pulled her out of it, fed her food and whiskey, and got some emotions outta there. She NEEDED that.

I was surprised to realize that I don't think we ever knew why Josey's mum was in hospital? Or if we did, I've utterly forgotten, because reading that she was a ref that got hurt in a match was a surprise to me, but also a gut punch because godDAMN does that add a layer to Josey watching all the injuries and deaths in gym matches all the time and how much she hates them. GODDAMN. And makes it extra nice that her best friend is out there championing less fatal reform to the gym system. Hearing more about Ingo and Emmet's family is cool, too, and how they followed their mother's loves, even after she died in a train wreck. That's just some great character writing there. The flow of the scene, from the numbness to the grief to the screaming to the laughter was just so natural and good, and then... well, it's about damn time Josey got fucked in the GOOD way for once! And I cannot blame Ingo for being totally into her carrying him into the bedroom, my lil gay heart is SWOONING
 

KamenRiderBurst

Conqueror of the Pewter Gym
Pokédex No.
2094
Caught
Jun 7, 2020
Messages
4
This one, was a little too real for me. My aunt passed a few weeks ago wednesday and death doesn't hit me for a few days. I can relate to Josey just wanting to block everything out. Work through it, laze through it do everything to pretend the hurt isn't there. All it takes is one good moment, the wrong thing said at the right time or the right thing at the wrong time and the flood gates open.

Good job.
 

Thirteenth

Number XIV
Writer
Pokédex No.
14
Caught
May 20, 2019
Messages
218
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Ice
Pokédex Entry
The reason she guides people all the way down to the mountain's base is that she wants them to hurry up and leave.


Like I literally applauded when I finished reading lmao

Oh I'm so excited to see more of Hugh 😭 This part:
And maybe I’m just some idealistic fool, but . . . I’m tired of the violence. I’m tired of the death. I seen my fair share of it. I’m still having the nightmares about it. And I ain’t want the next generation to have to deal with it. I want a kinder, softer world that’s more forgiving. I ain’t want this cycle of violence to continue, so I’m putting my foot down. I think it’s time we all chose to be kinder, and treat one another with love and compassion. I think that’s what’s gonna make our future a better one, and I promise I’ll do all I can to make it happen.
This part got me, damn, he's too good for this world...

On one hand, I'm glad Josey's finally getting her night with Ingo, but on the other, I think she still needed to be around Hugh and Marshall for a while longer ;; But they probably wouldn't have gotten her to open up and let the dam burst the way Ingo did so... She needed him too. I think they both need each other right now, and whether or not that's love doesn't necessarily change that, like she said.

I didn't expect this chapter to end with happier levity, but then it did, and I'm glad.
Good.
 

Aurea

Moderator
Moderator
🎇Contributor
Writer
Pokédex No.
25
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
100
Location
Sinnoh Region
Nature
Calm
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Grass, Steel
“I killed him,” I say, and there’s something wrong about me feeling so proud of it, but I don’t care. The stunned outrage on Iris’s face is too delicious to pass up. “I had Kyurem kill him. It was easy. He didn’t even see it coming.” I grin. “So I’m going to do it to you too.”

Iris starts to shake. Color floods into her cheeks, but it’s red with the heat of anger. “You’re not capable,” she says, but there’s a shake in her voice. She knows it’s true. She just doesn’t want to believe it. “You’re weak! You spent this entire time burying your head in your ass! You can’t kill anyone! You don’t have what it takes!”

I roll Magnets’s ball in my hand. I cozy up to Kyurem’s strength, and steam rises from me in the wake of Reshiram’s heat. I give her a thin smile.

“Care to test that theory?”
JOSEY YOU ABSOLUTE BADASS. God this was satisfying. It hurts reading this quote now, knowing what happens, but fuck was this great to read. Iris' unraveling was just fantastic.

Iris’s shouts of defiance are drowned out by the dragons roaring. I see them fight it, so consumed with their hatred of one another and twisted by rage. They dig their claws into the concrete and scrabble at the ground when they’re pulled to one another like a magneton’s three magnemite. But Quasar glows. The alien writing on his tags sparkle and vanish. The dragons blaze white like it’s evolution, and they coalesce in the middle of the street.

Briefly, I’m put in mind of Magnets, and my heart hurts.

The dragon that remains is magnificent. They lift their head and bellow to the sky, throat shaking at the force of it. The sound is triumphant. The sound is joyous. They’re some sort of color between black and white and icy blue, like a gleaming silver. I’ve never seen such a beautiful creature in my life.

Everyone is shocked to silence seeing the Original One in the middle of Opelucid Street. Even Iris. The great dragon turns to me, and I tremble under their gaze. It’s strange, to both sense them, all three parts and no longer divided, and yet have no control over them anymore. They’re free. They come to me, and they lean their neck down and nudge my front. Unbelieving, my hands touch their cheeks. Hot breath huffs through their nose. I hear a voice in my head, and they sound like something divine.
Okay a couple of things about this excerpt here:
1. The fact that the dragons fought their rejoining til the very end? Love to see it. Great little detail thrown in there.
2. Idk why I was so shocked that Josey planned to use Quasar's last wish to rejoin the dragons, because it makes complete sense, but my jaw fucking dropped and I've yet to pick it up off the floor.
3. The Magnets line just... my heart is shattered, ugh... Magnets was so so good...
4. The Original One recognizing Josey and thanking her was majestic and beautiful as fuck.

“Wait—Wait, Quasar!” He lifts up like he’s pulled by a magnet. I heave down on him, trying to stop him, but he rises until my feet lift off the ground. Until my slick, bloody, weak hands can’t hold onto him anymore, and I fall. “Quasar wait!” But that’s it, isn’t it? I watch Quasar, back in his slumber, rise up to the stars, and hot tears streak down my cheeks. My hobbled knees hit the ground. “Quasar,” I blubber, but he just keeps rising higher and higher, far away from me, and I know I’m never going to have him back. Just like I’ll never have Prick, I’ll never have Titan, I’ll never have Lazarus, and I’ll never have my Magnets. “Don’t go, Quasar. Please.”

Why does everyone I love leave me?
My heart aches. I read this earlier today and it hasn't stopped aching since. I thought, briefly, when Quasar didn't immediately blip out of existence, that maybe he could stay. This was such a weirdly peaceful but heartwrenching departure, and having that be the moment where all the other deaths hit her, as she helplessly watches her murder space baby slip away from her... It's beautifully tragic.

Iris is flat on her back with a knife in her throat. I ain’t even seen it hit her. She’s convulsing in fear, and she grapples for her own blade, but he kicks it away. Even above the din of the rain, I can hear him clear as day snarling, “This is for Cilan!”
JAW IS STILL ON THE FLOOR. (as a more serious note - the pacing and action in these last few chapters have honestly been sublime)

“Take it.” They toss the ball, and it rolls across the concrete to me. The rain washes the shiny plastic of blood. They drop the knife. Their shoulders slump. They look to the sky, where the Original One disappeared. “Three in one,” he murmurs. “They’re whole. And I . . .”

They look at their hand. I think of Kyurem, empty, hollow, and alone. The Shadow Triad member turns. They walk from the scene, and I don’t stop them. Drayden don’t stop them.
OH MY GOD DID YOU JUST. Goddammit you're incredible. The parallels between the three dragons and the triad, of the dragons being whole and now the last of the remaining Triad being left alone in the aftermath, that cutting line comparing him to Kyurem, hhhhhhh you absolute fucking genius.

“But why?” and he grits this between his teeth. Shakes his head. “Why you? It’s a bloodline thing, right?” He looks at me with dark brown eyes, and there’s anguish tearing at him. “We’re blood, Josey. If the damn thing needed someone of our bloodline, then why didn’t it pick me? Why’d it have to be you? I . . .”

There’s nothing I can say to him. He reaches out and bunches me close, and I curl into his warmth, trying to escape the cold air that surrounds me. He chafes my arms and back and leans his cheeks on top of my head. I very studiously ignore the broken pokeballs in my pockets. Mr. Sandman’s weight lurks in my shadow, and it’s strange to find the presence of the Darkrai I’ve been trying so hard to get rid of as a comfort.
Oh, oh Marshal. My heart. This hurts in a different way from everything else. He wanted so badly to protect Josey, to shoulder that burden for her. And yet here he grieves for what she's lost, and she still finds it in herself to be strong for him.

I don’t know if I’m relieved or not that I’m being erased from history, just like Kyurem was. I guess it’s a good thing. Less questions. Less attention. Hugh deserves the praise. I wouldn’t want to be front and center anyways.
The parallels again, you make some fantastic fucking connections in this story. But God, I hurt for Josey. That her sacrifices are so quickly forgotten. It's not fair, none of this is, but you're handling the fallout brilliantly.

Her lips press against a quiver. “Hugh.” She don’t say nothing more, she just crawls in the gurney and lays down. I scoot over so she can get in here with me. She lays her head on my shoulder and sinks into me like a stone.

“Hey, it’s okay. We’re okay,” I say, even though it’s not. She lost her whole team. She faced Iris Asiriu for me. We have a whole host of traumas we’re trying to ignore, but for this one moment, she lays on me as heavy and cold as the dead.

“I’m sorry I left you,” she says, and she sounds so tired and empty. My heart squeezes tight.
These tender moments between Hugh and Josey ;;;;;;;; they have my whole heart, I love their friendship so so much.

Even though things are done, he doesn’t leave me. It’s nice to have at least someone who never leaves.
;;;;;;;;;; this hit me like a punch to the gut. I'm glad she, at the very least, has her Darkrai. Even if he does give her nightmares.

His lips twist up in something that resembles a smile or a grimace. “Just trying to help.”

“That desperate to be a sugar daddy?”

Ingo frowns at me. “Don’t do that.”

I bite my lip against the venom. “Sorry.”

Ingo turns his drink in his palm. “Who was sick?”

I really want to close up to him, but it’d be a disservice to him to clam up now. He’s been nothing but honest and kind to me, even when I’m an asshole. I loosen my tongue. “My mom. She’s dead now.”

“Ah.” He looks away and rubs his neck. “I’m sorry to hear that.” I shrug in response. It feels sort of numb right now. I’d rather things feel numb than hurt. “What happened?”

He digs at that spot, and I find it’s not as numb as I think it is. I glower at him from across the couch. “What happened to back and forth?”
This hurt to read. Things were going so well, I was so afraid things would end on a sour note... but then

Ingo sets his empty glass aside. He takes mine away and plunks it on the coffee table. I start to bitch at him about it, but he doesn’t let me. He crawls across the couch to my side and wraps me up in a hug I can’t refuse.

My breath stutters. Fuck. He’s warm and smells good, and my torrent of words wash to a stop. I expect something pitying, like another apology, and how that’s so awful, and how he wishes he could do something for me, but there’s none of that. He’s dead silent and doesn’t bother with words that will fall short. After a long moment where I fight it, something boils up in me. It seizes in my lungs. Air bubbles squeeze up my throat and escape in gasps. I’m crushing Ingo to my chest, and it doesn’t dawn on me for a long, long moment that I’m sobbing.

And I cry for a long ass time. Because I thought I was numb, but I was playing myself. I was just trying not to deal with it all, because it’s easier to ignore shit like this than confront it. But now, I can’t stop it. The tears. Because I didn’t want to be sentimental about my pokemon, but I am. I couldn’t bear taking their remains with me, but I didn’t want to leave them, so I’m glad Uncle Marshal took them for me. My apartment is so, so fucking empty without them, and I’m aware even more of how fucking lonely a person I am. It’s consuming me from the inside out. It feels like a cold chasm that I can’t escape. It devours every little part of me until I’m just some shell of the person I used to be.

But for all of my own failings and shortcomings, Ingo is warm. He’s like a welcoming, summer breeze, and his heat thaws me, if little by little. If he doesn’t like how cold I am, he doesn’t say anything about it. I’m grateful for that. I bury into him and let him hold me. Some latent part of Kyurem rises to my mind, about half breeds, and Ingo might not be a perfect fit, but he’s damn close.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaa my entire fucking heart, this hurts but yet is so so soft, she needed this

He strains over the word and what he’s trying to say. I nod for him. “It’s okay,” I say softly. Ingo looks up at me with those soft, storm-like gray eyes. My lips tilt with knowing sympathy. “I get it. The wanting.”

I want so much. I want my family. I want a better life. I want things like carbs and money and companionship. I want to stop hurting. I want to begin again. I want to leave history behind; I want to build monuments to it. I want to fill the holes in me, and I want to taste happiness again. I understand what it’s like to want things on a primal, deep level. I want so much that I’m afraid Ingo will never be able to fill me because I’ll never stop wanting.
This is just gorgeous writing. I can only scream "my heartttt" so many times in a comment before it loses its impact, but honestly I'm running out of words. I just needed you to know how much I love how this sentiment is expressed, it feels appropriate for Josey's story and I just ;;;;;;;;

But he’s willing to try. He’s willing to try to fill me up, because at the end of the day, I think we’re both excessively lonely people finding absolution in one another. Maybe that’s a bad thing. Maybe it’s not really love, but it doesn’t matter, does it? If we find something in one another that we need, and we can supply it, I’m okay with that.

Ingo leans in close and kisses me surprisingly soft but expectantly deep. I crave him so much I can’t control my hands. I’m pulling him close and pawing clumsily at his lean body, kissing myself empty while he gives kisses back with enough gusto to fill me. His hands are coarse as they cup my cheeks, and I can taste the whiskey on his tongue.
I was practically cheering by the end. I'm so glad she got her warm, genuine, rich pretty boy in the end. She deserves at least that much.

I'm honestly floored by how incredible these last few chapters have been. Looking forward to whatever else you've got in your system to wrap up a story that holds a special place in my heart. ;w;
 

Whozawhatcha

i have too many projects
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
74
Nature
Lonely
Pokémon Type
Fire, Flying
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #216
@Missy what's that goddamn meme about dr. eggman calling out shadow the hedgehog for fucking his wife? that's hugh, on national radio/television tell colress he's gonna get his ass. Also, Josey has completely valid but terrible priorities in life, haha. I'm really glad Josey's got Ingo, I think he's going to be very helpful in the coming weeks. It's good she has someone. And LOOK, I've tried to get Hugh to rest! And it's not just me!! Boy, please like, brace yourself for this chapter man, haha.

@SayleeK Hugh: "It's not rabbit season anymore. It's Colress season, and his ass his mine." And yes! The train twins, specifically Ingo for some reason, just really ended up shining as support characters. It's mostly because Unova doesn't have a strong npc support cast other than the gym leaders and elite four. Ingo was a delightful surprise (and accidentally made me queer bait y'all with audrey, whoops, she was supposed to be a fling regardless cause there was no way to keep her relevant, alas, cause i love her.) Oh! And yes, briefly in like, chapter 1 or 2, we do learn why Josey's mom was hospitalized, but damn, I think it would have been harder hitting if I hadn't revealed why til now. Alas, the pitfalls of fanfiction. Ingo's family just clicked for me one day, so I was excited to flesh him out some more. (Josey should carry anyone to the bedroom. Goddamn what a brick house, what a pure Amazon.)

@KamenRiderBurst Oh jeez! I'm really sorry to hear that it hit so close to home, but I'm glad it did end up resonating with you. Both Josey and Hugh I think are in the denial stages about everything, and each have similar yet different coping mechanisms.

@Thirteenth I think I agree that Josey really needed to be around family and friends longer too, but she has this knack for running away from hard things. Ingo is definitely a blessing in her life. And this next chapter really shines a light on why Uncle Marshal didn't persistently go home with her against her will. And oh, Hugh? You like Hugh content? You're gonna LOVE this chapter then, hahahaha.

@Aurea I don't know why, but I'm always so delighted and validated when people quote my work, and maybe that's because I know exactly what passages got them the most, so this was an utter DELIGHT of a comment to read. Never apologize for comment length, really. I'm glad Iris's unraveling hit just as good as I hoped it would, and I'm surprised so many didn't really expect Josey to wish the dragons whole again. I always sort of knew she eventually would. And Hhhhhhhh there's so much to unpack here, but I'm so glad your jaw is on the floor, and I'm so glad all the emotional moments are punching you right in them good good feels. The Ingo/Josey scene felt very organic when I wrote it, and I'm real glad the moment levied at the end. I've got a few chapters more at least, I've got several more points I've got to hit as my kids figure out how to navigate their lives again.

“They made a monster out of me
They put a sword in my back
They gave me to the count of three
They set the hounds on my tracks
They made a demon out of me
Then, they put a cross through my flesh
They put a search out for me
Cause I got some blood on my hands”

Monster __ Jacob Banks




I stay in Opelucid for a week helping where I can against Uncle Marshal’s will. I help clean up the streets, I talk with the people, I do my best to do legwork on the ground and help bolster people’s spirits. Uncle Marshal wants me to rest, but even without Zekrom and Abel in my mind’s eye, I’m restless. There’s an uncomfortable buzz in my veins that makes me anxious whenever I rest, whenever my mind don’t have something to do. I chase that away with work.

If I’m occupied, I ain’t gotta think about it. If I’m occupied, I ain’t gotta deal with what’s eating me up inside.

So I work my ass off in Opelucid City until my mama and sister arrive, and then I’ve got no choice but to go home. I can’t say no to Mama. She’s worried, and so is Molly. I’m upset I still ain’t even caught that minccino she wanted. I’m a terrible brother.

My week at home is uneasy. Mama worries too much and doesn’t let me do anything. Molly wants to talk about things, and she’s thirteen now, but I can’t talk to her about what happened. I can’t explain the brainwashing, the anger like lightning, the violence and the—

No. I don’t talk to her about none of that. I talk about her and soak her in like a dry sponge. I want to know all about her new school friends. The music she’s excited about. Her new likes and obsessions and if she’s still planning on being a nurse. I’m desperate for some sense of normalcy, but that thrum of unrest don’t leave me. It persists like some sort of shark under the water, something I can’t ignore and can’t shake.

I don’t tell them about Mittens. I ain’t sure why. And when I do release Mittens from the apricorn outside of the city in the depths of the forest, he’s just as wild and ferocious as Reshiram with blind anger. He don’t respond to his name, a truth I imparted on him as a boy. He don’t recognize my smell or my voice. Posey wrestles the panther down and takes deep lacerations from his claws.

I return Mittens. My heart stutters with fear. I don’t open his ball again.

I train with my team more. Posey, Romulus, Wiggles, and Bud. I want to trade out Blitzkrieg for a more balanced team, but it feels like trying to detach powerful magnets. My zebstrika’s typing overlaps with Wiggles, but I can’t box ‘em. Blitzkrieg could be strong enough for the gym track.

I can’t explain why I feel safe with electric types. I keep Blitzkrieg and add Cupcake back to the team. She’s a sweetheart, and I miss her. She’s a comfort with her gentleness, and audino are more defensive than people give them credit for. I think having a more versatile pokemon on the team than the raw power that pokemon like Posey and Romulus and Wiggles have will be good. I miss running the little things, like Attract.

While I’m stuck at home, whenever my mind wanders, I pour it back into battle strategies. Iris ruled with complete, raw power that would tear her challengers apart. I ain’t wanna battle like that. I think of my tricks and plays early on the track, and I wonder if I could possibly make it viable in a position like Champion.

It rains an unseasonable amount this summer. I don’t think a single day at home is sunny. It’s endless thunderstorms, and the strikes of lightning wake me up in the night with my heart racing. The rumbling, rolling thunder sounds like Zekrom’s bassy, throaty growls.

My saving grace comes in the form of a letter from Uncle Marshal. The doctor overseas is willing to fly out to see me. I’m beyond grateful to get outta home. The quiet life is driving me crazy. I can’t enjoy the little things I used to. I feel like a part of me’s been ate up and now I can only go, I can only do things. I can’t relax. I can’t rest.

So I’m grateful when I kiss Mama and Molly goodbye and hop on a train back to Opelucid. I’m desperate to get back out on the gym track. I wanna DO something. I wanna make a difference, and I can’t do that cooped up at home.

On the ride north, I realize I ain’t seen Josey in two weeks. I miss her. I hope she’s adjusting to life better than I am.

***​

Mark Lidwell is the doctor’s name. He brings with him a machine that plugs into the wall. One pole he sticks to my chest. The other is a long needle that he sticks in deep. He sets the machine, and when the electricity hits me, it feels strange and wrong. It’s not like feeling the live current when I stroke Wiggles’s skin or Blitzkrieg’s mane. It feels alien, and cold compared to the spark I recognized as Zekrom’s.

For ten minutes, in this uncomfortable suspension, my heart beats at my own. It feels wrong, but it feels right. And Doctor Lidwell tells me, “Doctor Albert Hyman in Iccirus City is coming out to meet me as well. He’s developed a similar machine, and we’ll see if we can’t manage to make a less cumbersome machine for you. The most important thing for you right now is to rest and not strain yourself.”

I nod, and I lie, “Of course.”

He smiles at me. “Despite the damage, it seems like you have a strong heart, Mr. Matisse. That will serve you well in the coming days as we try to find a solution to this predicament. I wish you well.”

“Thank you.”

***​

A week later and I’m standing out on the pitch with Cupcake against Drayden’s druddigon. Even from here, I can see how cross the man is with me. He thinks I should rest, but he ain’t denied my chance to battle for his gym badge. I’m glad for that. I ain’t sure I could take much more of pretending my life is peachy keen and going back to the way it was. It ain’t never going back to how it was, so I’ve gotta build something up out of what I’ve got.

The stands are packed. Their cheers shake the roof, the floor, and my heart. I’m their golden boy. The high flier. Their Hero of Ideals. Their belief in me encourages me when it feels like everything about my personal life is falling apart.

(I make it a point to speak to Mittens, to feed them, to try and spend time with them. Ain’t nothing working. I’m starting to think ain’t nothing gonna reach them.)

I thought I’d escape the dreary rain down south, but even up north it’s begun to storm. Thunder cracks overhead and rattles the gym roof. When the referee gives indication, I give the first order of the match.

“Rain Dance.”

I’ve seen Drayden’s way of battling. He prevents the classic power set-ups like Swords Dance and the such. He forces you into an even match by forcing you to switch. I’m gambling that he forces our switch so I ain’t gotta do it myself.

He bellows, “Dragon Tail!” and Cupcake takes a big hit that makes her zip back into her pokeball. Just what I wanted. I feel comfortable here on the stage of battle. I’m not so shaken up, like when I lost Doodle Bug against Clay. I fought ninjas; I fought the Champion; and I fought a dragon with near god-like powers. I’m comfortable fighting the smaller dragons now.

The rain drenches me. I’m real tired of the rain, but it’s soothing. It clears my head. “Wiggles.” The battle is fast. A simple druddigon can’t take the heat of electricity that Wiggles can put out. Two Thunders in, and the druddigon is on it’s last leg. Drayden yields. The crowd roars; the thunder outside roars. The indoor rain persists.

He sends out his flygon next. That’s expected. He’s relying on that to stonewall my electricity. The world knows I have a talent for it. But Wiggles is faster than his flygon, so I beat him to the punch with, “U-Turn!”

Wiggles viciously hits the flygon before zipping back into his pokeball. I palm my first ball again. “Cupcake.” I see the cinch in Drayden’s fluffy white brows. When I’m put in mind of Reshiram’s white feathers, I set my jaw and shake my head. I need to focus.

“Rock Slide!”

The flygon is relentlessly fast, and Cupcake is not. She takes a beating from stones the size of boulders, but weathers it. My heart swells. She ain’t even won yet, and I’m so proud of her. “Attract!”

Faint pink hearts fly between their eyes, the flygon lands with a whine, tail tucked in. It’s here that I can’t stop a smile. That’s what we need. We’ll trick them into not fighting us.

“Ice Beam!”

I never did catch that cloyster. After nearly torching Josey on that beach, I ain’t going nowhere near it for no pokemon. We scatter ice over the flygon, and I watch Drayden thinking hard, trying to consider how to counter me. He settles on the only thing he can.

“Dragon Tail!”

His flygon chirps up a fuss, and its musical wings sing a discordant song. It don’t attack back. The crowd elevates in their shocked, delighted screaming, and I’m honest to god smiling big now.

“Do you want another Ice Beam to knock him out,” I ask Drayden, “or do you yield?”

There’s a curious, impish shadow over his eyes. I think he’s caught on to what I’m doing. Another Ice Beam, even from someone without much attack power like Cupcake, will take down a pokemon twice weak to it. And Drayden relents with a grunt and announces, “I yield this round to the challenger.”

The crowd goes wild as the rain finally putters out. Two down, two to go. Drayden puts a lot of challengers out of their misery with strength, a lot like Iris did. It’s clear to see where she learned her battle skills from. But while it’s effective when everyone’s battle style is to hit harder and faster, it’s not going to work with me. There’s more than one way to win, and I’m going to teach people that one battle at a time.

Drayden’s next is his altaria. I draw in a deep breath. Wiggles would annihilate it. Instead, I leave Cupcake on the field as the next bout begins.

“Dragon Dance!”

If he wants to set up, we can too. “Attract!”

His altaria is caught, hook line and sinker. However, it don’t help us at first. Drayden calls, “Fire Blast!” and Cupcake is hit hard. She squeals in the heat, and I flinch in the wake of the fire. I can smell her burning. My skins crawls. My stomach turns. I feel faint and nauseated. It’s the heat of Reshiram.

“Rain Dance!”

I don’t need it, but I want it. The deluge of rain pours down, and it washes the stench of burning fur away. Cupcake looks tired, but I’m certain she can take another hit; if not, Posey can tap in for her. Drayden switches to a Dragon Pulse, but his altaria croons, its heart stolen and sympathetic to my hurting audino.

“Charge Beam!”

We start hitting back. Modest at first, but gaining strength while the altaria waffles and ignores Drayden’s futile orders. Finally, we hit a standoff, where I know my next Charge Beam would force Drayden to yield, and if he managed to break through the infatuation, his next hit would force me to yield.

We pause like two fighting dogs sizing each other up. “Yield?” I suggest to him with a raised brow.

Drayden looks annoyed and pleased at the same time. “I can’t make it that easy for you,” he says to me. I nod, understanding. “Dragon Pulse!”

His altaria fights through the infatuation. Cupcake squeaks and collapses head over heels. She starts to stand, but I put out my hand. “I yield,” I announce. I could take the win without yielding. I could simply attack in the opening, but I don’t. A roar of indignation goes up from the crowd. I return Cupcake, croon some soft words of pride to her, and tuck her pokeball away.

I release Posey. He bellows loudly, the water exciting him for the battle ahead. The rain is heavy and has soaked clear through my loafers. Drayden sighs, looking tired. The referee drops his flags and shouts, “Begin!”

Drayden sits on his heels and says, “I yield,” before the first attack is thrown. Shock and jeers rise up from the crowd.

I smile, because I’m glad Drayden knows I’ve pinned him. He looks across the battlefield at me, and I can’t tell his expression beneath that bushy beard, but he just shakes his head at me. I laugh at him. I feel like I’ve finally found my place in life.

Drayden’s last is his haxorus. I’m only down one pokemon, with three fresh and raring to go. I return Posey and twist my apricorn open, announcing, “Romulus.” For this last bout, I’ve taken a bit of inspiration from Josey. I hope she sees the battle and knows I’m thinking of her. I hope she knows how I wanna honor her defensive style.

The crowd is raring for a proper battle instead of all this dancing I been doing. They’re sure Romulus, one of my most fierce battlers, always a joy to watch, will give them a fiery battle. I hate to disappoint them, but I have to illustrate my point.

The referee drops his flags again. “Begin!”

“Iron Defense!”

“Dragon Dance!”

Neither of us attack at first. We set up, a fine sheen of metallic light stiffening Romulus’s bones and the haxorus launching into a fierce dance. The rain sticks around. It sends my damp curls dripping over my forehead.

“Toxic!”

Drayden starts across the field. He didn’t expect that, and neither did the crowd. I grin cheekily at him, and he frowns. “Dragon Tail!”

“Detect!”

We dance under and away from the fine-tuned violence of a haxorus. “Double Team!” Illusory duplicates flood the field. Drayden counters with an X-Scissor easily dodged. I again command, “Double Team!” and I wait comfortably on my heels.

For the duration of what can only be loosely called a battle, Drayden’s haxorus flails on the field, attacking duplicates and missing the real lucario every time we Detect out of the way. He can’t touch us, and if he ever did? Romulus has got more than enough defense stacked to take whatever heat that haxorus can put out. And Drayden can’t afford to stack those Dragon Dances, not when the Toxic eats at his dragon’s strength.

His haxorus is well tired by the time the battle comes to a standstill. Drayden puts his hands on his hips with a huff, but even from here, I can see his smile when he says, “I yield to the challenger.”

The crowd hollers at the top of their lungs so much that it drowns out the ref announcing my win. I don’t hear nothing but the roar of the thunder outside, and Zekrom ain’t with me no more, but it still feels like they somehow saw my achievement here.

***​

When Uncle Marshal says, “We found the last Shadow Triad member. I’m headed out to capture him,” I feel faint.

There was so much blood. There was just so, so much blood. It pooled in the street, it covered his hands, he butchered her like—

My mouth says, “Take me with you,” and Uncle Marshal glares in my direction.

“You’ve done enough, Hugh,” he says sharply, and my jaw clacks tight. “This is League business. You’ll sit it out.”

“You’ll make the Hero of Ideals sit it out?” I say, dragging my status into this. It feels wrong to weaponize it against Uncle Marshal, but I ain’t gonna sit on my ass. “I’m well on my way to being Champion. You can’t tell me to stay here.”

His eyes flash. “You aren’t Champion YET,” he snaps. I struggle to tamper a surge of aggression. Outside, the thunderstorm rumbles with an echoed threat. My ears fixate on the buzzing of the fluorescents. “I don’t know if you exactly have a death with Hugh, but your heart is NOT stable! You need to rest!”

“I can’t rest!” I shout back at him. I’m making a scene in Opelucid Gym. People are staring. Drayden watches us with keen eyes, judging how things are bubbling over between us. “I was Chosen for a reason, and the people have rallied around me for a reason! You can’t take the Shadow alone, so I’m going with you!”

I can still feel his neck under my hand, hot and alive with rushing blood. Suffering. I put him out of his misery. I didn’t blink. I was the monster Colress accused me of being.

“You’re not going anywhere!” Uncle Marshal bellows at me. He’s fisted up, muscles bunched, like he’s ready to wrestle me down here and now in the gym. “I have to look out for you since you can’t seem to do it yourself! What would your mother say if I let you walk out there and have a god damned heart attack?”

My heart palpitates hard to remind me of its condition. My teeth bare at him. “She’d say I’m a god damned adult and I can do as I please! You ain’t my father! You ain’t even blood!”

The thunder outside cracks again. Uncle Marshal swells in rage. “I may not be blood related, but we are FAMILY, Hugh! I can’t let you throw yourself on the chopping block like this!”

“No, you’re trying to baby me!” I snap. My blood is rushing. The building is bright, and it feels like I can feel the electricity buzzing above. “I ain’t helpless! I faced them once, and I can do it again!”

“You got stabbed the last time you faced one!”

“No, last time I faced one, I killed him!”

Uncle Marshal looks stricken when I throw this at him. He jolts, and he gums his lips. “All the better that you sit this one out then. You don’t need to go through that again. You need rest—”

“I don’t need rest!” I scream, and I feel hot and heady. I feel like I’m standing in a haze of static my brain’s so fuzzed. “Can everyone get off my goddamn ass about needing rest? I done tried that already, and it ain’t worked! I can’t fucking rest! I ain’t know how to!”

Drayden steps forward, and his hand is out. “Hugh, slow down,” he says sternly, but his eyes are wide.

I’m filled with wild aggression, and the frustration I’ve been sitting on the past weeks is boiling up and out. “I won’t!” I shout at Drayden. “I’m tried of being handled like glass! I ain’t gonna break at the slightest pressure, alright? I can handle it! I know what I signed up for! I know what’s expected of me, but everybody keeps holding me back like you think I’m weak, and I ain’t!”

“Hugh, stop,” Uncle Marshal says, and I can barely hear him past the current in my ears and thunder clapping outside. All this fucking RAIN, I’m so fucking tired of the rain! “We aren’t saying that, but—”

“No buts!” I scream at them. “If you think I can do it, then take the fucking kiddy gloves off!” My fingers are stinging. My mouth is stinging. My heart is stuttering. My head prickles like pins and needles, and I feel like I’m going to explode. “I ain’t stopping for nothing, because if I stop at all, I start thinking about it all, and I can’t deal with that!” I remember the sound of it, the way his blade sank into her body, the twisted rage in him, the twisted rage in me, the way my fingers closed around his throat, his pulse frighteningly easy to stop, and Colress—

A sharp ringing cuts through my ears. I fling my arms down and scream, “Colress was right about me!” and thunder strikes outside. It shakes the building like an explosion, and the current in the room rises and breaks. The bulbs swell and burst, and people shriek in terror.

My heart stops for several long, long seconds, and I pant through my teeth. It beats again, and it feels painful.

There’s light in the dark room. I look down at my hands, and electricity webs over them. Frightened tears sting my eyes. I gasp thinly, and I hear Uncle Marshal say softly, “Hugh.” I look up, and he has his arms extended. “Hugh, take a deep breath.”

I’m hyperventilating. When he takes a step toward me, I cry out, “Don’t!” and throw my hands out to ward him off. Then, I yank my hands to my chest, because that’s what I did to Josey, ain’t it? I almost torched her when I lost my temper because—because—

“That’s impossible,” I wheeze. My hands reach up to my hair, and I hear the static electricity snapping in my curls. “I’m not—Zekrom ain’t—”

I don’t have the dragon anymore. I felt them get scooped out of me like my whole heart went with them, and yet, their essence still lingers in me, despite it all. My knees wobble. Uncle Marshal catches me, and I cling to him, trembling. Colress is screaming in my head.

I thought you could resist whatever it is the dragons do, but even you can be corrupted!

“Not here,” he mutters. He whisks me away somewhere. I walk my numb feet down the hall with him, trying not to cry about it all. Hot tears streak down my cheeks anyway. How is that fair? I thought I’d gotten rid of Zekrom’s influence, but they linger in me, twisting me up, and gods, if I ever let my temper loose again, if I’m still drawing on the electricity around me, if the storms—

I think of the bolt I threw at Josey, and I start sobbing so hard I can’t see straight. Uncle Marshal picks me up and carries me. The gym is pitch black like the Pitch Black dragon, and it was my surge that broke all the bulbs inside. I did this. I could hurt people if I ever lose my temper again. My hands burn with guilt. I could kill someone again.

You have blood on your hands, Hugh! You’re a murderer!

I’m sat down on a chair, but Uncle Marshal don’t let me go. He wraps me up real tight and holds me so firm I think he’ll crush my healing ribs broken again.

If you weren’t just like your father, you might have made something of yourself.

He’s right. He was right all along. Colress saw me for what I was. And gods, I ain’t just like my father, I’m worse. At least all my dad did was beat us. He wasn’t running around torching people and killing them.

“Hugh,” Uncle Marshal murmurs, “shh, it’s okay. Take a deep breath for me. It’s okay. No one’s hurt.”

I catch hard over my sobs. My heart stops and starts irregularly, and I feel like I can’t breathe. Maybe not this time, but what about the next? And the times after that? I can’t lose control again. I can’t never let my temper get the best of me again. I have to control this thing inside of me. There can’t be mistakes. Mistakes result in me killing a man. Mistakes result in me almost killing family.

“Come on, Hugh. Deep breath. I’ve got you. I ain’t letting anything happen to you, okay? You’re okay. Everyone’s okay.”

I drag in deep breaths. I swallow down the emotions. I stopper it all up and I shove it all away. I clench my fists until the static popping in my fingers goes away. I compartmentalize. I can stow it all away but Colress taunting me, jeering at me, hating me. My throat tightens up with more tears, and for the first time in weeks, I feel tired.

“I’m sorry,” I blubber to Uncle Marshal the second I get my wind back enough to speak. “I didn’t mean to—”

“Shush, I know you didn’t.” He holds me out at arm’s length, and there’s a dark shadow of worry over his brow. He holds my shoulders with a vice-like grip. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

I hiccup and scrub at my eyes. “Everyone’s so certain I shouldn’t be doing nothing. I thought if I stopped, no one would let me start again.”

“That’s not true and you know it,” he says to me. He gives me the smallest shake, like he’s trying to shake literal sense into me.

“But it don’t matter,” I say, and my voice hitches precariously close to tears again. “I can’t stop. Not when I’m dreaming about it. Not when it’s all I can think about when I stop and have any fucking time to myself. I thought I was gonna lose my mind at home. I—I couldn’t even relax at home!”

I struggle to swallow the hiccups and threatening tears. When thunder rumbles overhead again, I wince. Uncle Marshal squeezes my shoulders, and he says, “Hey. Hey, deep breaths. It’s okay to not be okay, Hugh, you know that?” I do, but it feels vapid to say now. It ain’t okay for me to not be okay, I have to be in control, or I shoot fucking lightning. That’s so stupid. I can’t hear Zekrom, but they fester in me? How is that justice?

“Listen to me,” and he looks torn. “I’m supposed to catch the triad. I’ve got the type advantage against him, but you say the word, and I’ll stay.”

I’m shaking my head halfway through his sentence. “No,” I say, and now, I smother it all. I can’t let him shirk his duties for me. I take a deep breath and lift my head. “No, I’ll be fine. You need to go.” There’s this look in his eyes, like leaving family right now is the last thing he wants to do, but I won’t let him. I harden my brow and say, “You need to get them before they get away. I killed one of them. He might come for me next.”

I think it’s a lie. The Shadow didn’t kill me in the street like he did Iris. He had his chance, and he didn’t take it.

But, it works on Uncle Marshal. He gives a grim nod, and he pulls me into another crushing hug. I sink into him. “I’ll be back soon,” he tells me. “When I get back, we’re talking about all of this. You can’t keep it all bottled up.” I nod. He holds me out at arm’s length, and his eyes soften.

“Listen to me,” he murmurs. “I know you’re the Hero of Ideals. I know you have what it takes. You’ve got a heart big enough to carry the world, kid,” and he gives me another small shake. “But you can’t take care of everyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first. All right?”

“Okay,” I say, and I sound small. Like a child.

You weren’t supposed to end up like N! Crazy! Bloodthirsty! Killing people! You were supposed to be different!

Maybe I’m not different.

Uncle Marshal drops an uncharacteristically affectionate kiss on my hairline. “Take care of yourself,” he mutters gruffly. “I’ll send Drayden back for whatever you need, all right?” I nod. “I’ll be back soon, I promise.” My heart squeezes in pain and fear that he might not.

***​

Uncle Marshal finds the last Shadow Triad member a mile outside of the Giant Chasm. It’s Chili. He hung himself from a tree.

Hey it's open season on Colress's ass, have fun y'all.



But no seriously, the kid's are all right. Totally fine. They're coping. Things are fine.
 
Last edited:

SayleeK

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
92
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
Oh Hugh, honey… trauma’s eating the boy up and I hope like hell this doctor can help Q_Q

Mittens going feral is… unsurprising, but it hurts, after all Hugh went through just to get them back DX

Oh noooo, my poor boy’s still got powers he can’t control and horrors behind his eyes and LET MARSHAL HUG YOU, DAMMIT, YOU NEED THE HUGS

...well, goddamn. RIP the last Triad member. That’s heavy, but shit, kinda unsurprising after how he took losing his brothers…

MORE MARSHAL HUGS FOR BOTH JOSEY AND HUGH OR WE RIOT
 

Missy

i left my heart in alola
Writer
Pokédex No.
94
Caught
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
99
Nature
Lax
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Tough
Pokédex Entry
just missy now
While I'd love to scream your ear off about our lovely boy Hugh's breakdown, I'd rather talk about his battle. Not only do I love his style, but the fact that nearly all the rounds are ended by yielding is extra special. It's a precursor to how he'll reform Unova's battling scene. Here we have Hugh stressing out about how he'll hurt someone again, but he's doing everything possible to keep that from happening. Truly, the Hero of Ideals.
 

Thirteenth

Number XIV
Writer
Pokédex No.
14
Caught
May 20, 2019
Messages
218
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Ice
Pokédex Entry
The reason she guides people all the way down to the mountain's base is that she wants them to hurry up and leave.
please stop being mean to hugh 😭 let him rest... let him and Josey just get some hammocks and sleep for a few weeks, thank you...

But really, it hurts that he just can’t let himself rest or relax because then he just... thinks. It’s like Josey all over again, avoiding what awaits them when they shut their eyes and their minds aren’t occupied. :')

God the way the rain follows him and how he calls on it... How he’s tired of it but it’s also the only thing that's like, sort of comforting? I'm really curious about what exactly remains of Zekrom and Kyurem in them and whether or not there's a way to fully undo that. But also there's a lot of potential for delicious angst in not being able to rid themselves of the dragons so 🤔

I catch hard over my sobs. My heart stops and starts irregularly, and I feel like I can’t breathe. Maybe not this time, but what about the next? And the times after that? I can’t lose control again. I can’t never let my temper get the best of me again. I have to control this thing inside of me. There can’t be mistakes. Mistakes result in me killing a man. Mistakes result in me almost killing family.
This huuuuuurts 😭

And god, the very end is just... gruesome both for what it is and all the context surrounding it...

thanks for the pain
 

Whozawhatcha

i have too many projects
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
74
Nature
Lonely
Pokémon Type
Fire, Flying
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #220
@SayleeK I WILL SUPPLY HUGS I SWEAR, but also, yeah, dealing with these messy chapters of "how the fuck do they pick back up after that?" and the answer is time keeps moving. and it moves fast. by and large, i think hugh is taking it better than josey.

@Missy aaaaahhhhh! i'm so glad you pointed out how he's changing his battle style!! honestly, one of my favorite battles i've written, even if it's snappy as hell and fast. was nice to see hugh hitting his stride on this mad dash to championhood

@Thirteenth i'm trying, i swear! by and large, i promise hugh is taking it better than josey! (whether that's uh, good or not) but yeah. Hugh and Josey deffos have similar approaches to their trauma, and yet also different approaches. Hugh definitely has issues he needs to figure, and how he might come to grips with things.

“Running in the shadows
Damn your love, damn your lies

And if you don't love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
You would never break the chain”

The Chain __ Fleetwood Mac



The League is a mess trying to reassemble itself. They just replaced Harvey for Roxie in Virbank. Clay survived, but they still need to fill Elesa and and Marlon’s spots. That’s not to say how they’re scrambling to fix the Elite Four as well. With Grimsley’s treachery and disappearance, Shauntal in jail for sympathizing with Iris, and a dead champion, war has ravaged the structure of the country.

Lenora is approached to reopen her gym, this time with a focus on rock types. (She previously focused on normal types, but with Cheren’s position, a new typing is needed. With her history as the director of the Nacrene Museum, and her work on bringing fossil pokemon back to life, she’s well suited for rock types.) She will stand as first in the line of gym leaders. Cheren is bumped to the fourth slot to replace Elesa; sadly, a stroke to his ego.

Drayden is promoted to eighth gym leader again. Benga, Alder’s grandson, is chosen for seventh in the line of gym leaders. Given the dragon typing is already claimed, he chooses instead to make his mark with fire types and a volcarona ace like his grandfather. Benga will be located in White Forest, where a small foothold of industrialization has begun. The burgeoning Black City will attract a strong community with a gym bringing attention to it.

Alder has taken up the mantle of Champion in the interim. Emmet Vanderbilt is replacing Grimsley with a focus on bug types. They still ain’t chosen a replacement for Shauntal.

(I’ve heard Cheren is gunning for her position; he wants to be a part of the Elite Four, not constrained to gym leader. Supposedly he’s recommending Bianca, a short-lived superstar on the gym track to take the 4th gym slot, but she seems uninterested. She’s got work with Professor Juniper. Until the League can find someone else to replace Cheren’s position, there ain’t no way he can secure the spot in the Elite Four.)

Naturally, Alder intends to step down as soon as he can. The people want their Hero of Ideals on the proverbial throne. No pressure, of course.

I’m doing my best to keep tabs on things. I’m watching the inner workings of the League now, and Drayden and Uncle Marshal keep me well in the loop. I train up new strategies for Benga, because the kid is a whiz of battling.

Despite my insistence, Uncle Marshal makes sure I’m far from the front of sweeping up the last remnants of Team Neo Plasma. It’s infuriating. He claims that since I ain’t League yet, it ain’t my concern. So I’m gunning to take down Benga as fast as possible so I can get properly involved in things. Uncle Marshal will hate it once I’m in charge and he has to listen to me for a change.

***​

“I’m so sorry, Mr. Matisse,” she’s saying to me, “but I really don’t think there’s any helping things. It’s been a month now with no discernible improvements. I’m sorry, but I just don’t think we can help.”

“So that’s it?” I sound numb. I sound defeated. “There’s no hope?”

The woman wrings her hands. “It seems very unlikely at this point,” she murmurs, “but he is yours. We can keep trying, if you want us to. Time might soften him yet.”

I can’t help. Professionals can’t help. I stare through the glass pane into the room where Mittens lays tranquilized—again. Whatever the Shadow Triad did to him, it’s gone deep. I’m clinging to my pop for no reason, other than being a weak sap.

My heart hurts. Watching him not improve for so long erodes the hope I once had. Was it like this for Josey, when she watched her mother deteriorate day after day, month after month, year after year?

Mittens’s white paws twitch in his sleep. His claws extend and retract. I think of Golem, and I know some sins can’t be forgiven.

My mouth says, “Put him down,” and I know Josey was always stronger than me for being able to hold out hope for so long.

The thunderstorms are dreary this week.

***​

Dear Hugh,


You’re right. Kyurem doesn’t seem like it’s fully left Josey either. She’s very depressed and cold even though she’s trying to hide it from me. She’s eating like shit, so I bought her some food. That Ingo seems like a good lad though. I’m glad he’s sticking around with her. If he doesn’t, I’ll have to break him in half.

I asked if she wanted the ashes of her pokemon again, but she’s determined she doesn’t want anything to do with that. I pissed her off and she went for a walk, so I’m writing this now. She’s doing bad, but I think she’s still level. She’s holding down her jobs right now, and I think Ingo is swinging something to get her working full time for him. She’s really pissed about Cheren coming to Nimbasa.

Ingo offered her a nicer job away from the furnaces, but you know Josey. She doesn’t accept help from anyone. Must be why you’re both friends. Both of you hard headed idiots. Still, I think for now it’s good she’s still an undertaker. She’s too cold, so I’m glad the furnaces can at least defrost her every day.

I’ve kept it pretty quiet, but Lotus will never fully recover from Reshiram. We won’t be able to battle like we used to. I hate to bench him, so I’ve left him with Josey. I think she downplayed it, but I think she appreciated that. Whether she likes it or not, Josey’s part of a big battling family. She loves pokemon, and I think it’ll do her good to have one bugging her, even if it’s ol’ Lotus.

She says she’s been meaning to write you, but in case she doesn’t, I know she wants you to know that she’s proud of you. She saw your match against Drayden and laughed until she cried because of how you battled. She says to stop stealing her strategies. She misses you. You’ll have to come down and see her. I think she’s lonely, and I don’t know how to fix it. Sometimes I think she doesn’t even want me around.

And don’t think that just because I’m spending a week in Nimbasa means you can get away with overworking yourself. You take a break and take care of yourself. And if I hear you’re skipping out on therapy when I’m paying for it, I’ll have your head, understand?

Say hi to Benga for me. He’s a good kid. Don’t let him kick your ass.


Love, Uncle Marshal




I sigh and lay the letter down. White Forest towers above me, tranquil and green and bright. It’s a beautiful place. Here, I feel some semblance of peace, even while I train for my battle with Benga. For once, it’s sunny, and I’m relieved. I crave the sun. I’m tired of the rain.

Uncle Marshal’s right. I should go back and see Josey soon. It’s been a month, and she hasn’t reached out. That should have been my warning sign that things were wrong.

I check my schedule for the best time to go down and see her. I battle Benga in three days, and then I have to go back to Opelucid for a follow up doctor’s appointment. They’re keeping deadly close progress on my heart. Also therapy, because I value my head and don’t doubt Uncle Marshal could take it. I don’t think it’s helping very much, but I’d like it to.

After that is the perfect time to go see Josey. The Elite Four is still searching for a suitable candidate to fill that last slot anyways.

I miss her. I hope we can watch good movies, drink, and dance. She owes me a karaoke night, even though she hates singing. I feel buoyed with the knowledge of seeing her soon.

***​

I run strategies like Sand Attack, Flash, Substitute, Attract, and Rain Dance against Benga. Blitzkrieg runs circles around his fire types. Cupcake charms them into submission. Romulus is evasive and hits in the openings he needs. The rain douses his flames.

Posey touches the field once and forces Benga to yield. He’s a fiery kid, but not with a temper. He’s excited for me when I win. I’m excited to battle him again in the future, because I know he’s going to be even better than me someday.

***​

“I need to resign.”

I stare at Caitlin of the Elite Four, gobsmacked. She’s come down all the way to Opelucid City to see . . . me?

“Why?” I ask, and then, I ask, “Why’re you telling me?”

It’s raining hard outside. I think it’s rained for a whole month since the goddamn dragons left. Caitlin’s throat tightens. She looks away from me. It’s odd, how I know for a fact she’s older than me, and yet, she looks so young. “I’m not what this country needs right now,” she says. “I can’t be trusted. I’m not strong enough either. And . . .” She fiddles with the edge of her dress. “I’m a coward. I’ve grown weak and complacent.” She hikes her chin up at me, and she says, “That’s why I need to resign. I’m telling you because you’ll be our future Champion. Alder will try too hard to make me stay. I need to cut free of this.”

The winds are breaking cooler with the onset of fall. The leaves will be changing soon. For once, I feel woefully under-prepared for what the title of Champion might mean. “You can’t resign,” I tell her. “This country needs you. We’re still trying to repair the Elite Four. You’ll break us clean in half.”

“And I’m telling you I cannot be trusted,” she repeats. “I have to resign.”

Her words settle heavily in the space between us. My mind tingles, like a sixth sense I can’t explain, that my subjects aren’t true. I can smell the deception. My heart skips a beat. Is that Zekrom, still in me, warning me? Is it Abel’s instincts overtaking mine?

“You sided with Iris?”

Caitlin flinches. She ducks her head, and her wealth of hair falls over her face. “Only initially,” she cracks on a whisper. “I thought I had to. But she—” Her gulps, long white neck bobbing. “I saw first hand what she could do to people. And I knew she was a monster. She would have killed me too if I had crossed her earlier. I was a coward up until she set Shauntal on me. So I can’t be trusted.”

The thunderstorm rumbles outside. I stare at Caitlin. The foundations of the League were nearly broken to the core when Iris swept through them. She broke Alder’s will. She whipped Caitlin and Grimsley so thoroughly they feared her enough to do whatever she asked. Shauntal threw her lot in with Iris in order to preserve herself. Even Uncle Marshal feared her and tiptoed around her.

Iris shattered the League. She had everyone dancing on the end of her strings by fear alone. That’s not how I’ll run this country. I have to be better, and I will be.

“What made you oppose her in the end?” Caitlin looks up at me with wide baby blues. I bite my lip hard. “Grimsley tried to kill me. He never had the courage to oppose Iris, even in the end. What made you different?”

“I . . . Nothing did,” she stammers. “She sent Shauntal to kill me. That’s why I fought back. And I lost.”

“You’re still here, aren’t you?”

“With a crippled team that can’t serve the League.”

I stifle a huff and frown. Is it for the best she go? The League is already in shambles. We can’t take another hit like this. But if this is all true, Caitlin has acted selfishly. But how can I vilify her when she was just another pawn, just another body to bump off to Iris?

“Why did you start battling?” I finally ask softly.

Caitlin crosses her arms. She chafes her elbows and after a long moment, she says, “I worked in the Battle Castle in Sinnoh. I refereed battles day in and day out as a girl. They propped me up as princess of the castle.” Her fingers clench. “I didn’t want to be the princess. I wanted to be a knight, battling.”

I nod, and I prod, “So you became a knight?”

“No.” Caitlin shakes her head. She scuffs the toe of her expensive heels in the dirt. “I fought with my employer. I—” She stops. She looks around for people, and she murmurs, “Do you promise not to tell anyone?”

My heart stutters. “I promise,” I tell her.

“I had a terrible temper,” she says, and my brows skyrocket. Her? She’s so unassuming. She never raises her voice. She’s the most tepid of the Elite Four. “I lost control of it, and when I did, I lost control of my psychic powers.” I stare, plum stupid. “People got hurt. I was fired. People feared me. So I left. I came to Unova to start fresh, to develop and hone my skills, and to control my psychic powers.”

The electrical overload in Opelucid’s gym prickles under my skin. She knows what that’s like. She knows what it’s like to have powers you can’t control and the temper to unleash it.

“I became part of the Elite Four to spite my employer. But . . .” Caitlin rubs the fabric of her dress between her fingers. “I was good at it, you know? Being a psychic was immeasurable help for Alder when dealing with foreign dignitaries and local alike. I helped him know who was lying, so he knew who to trust. I liked my job. But I never liked the killing. You can . . . sense it, as a psychic, the way pokemon die. I hated it. So I stifled my powers until I grew complacent. Until I grew weak. Until I became a coward.”

A long stretch of silence sits between us. I turn this over in my mind’s eye, seeing the pros and cons of her, but . . . Maybe I’m soft. Maybe I’m too hopeful, but I want her to stay. I want her to have the chance to do better. She thinks she’s degenerated in her time under Iris’s tenure, and she deserves to have the chance to better herself.

She knows the burden I know. I resonate with that. If she can control her temper and her powers, then that means there’s hope for me.

“I think you should stay,” I finally murmur. She sighs in frustration, but I shake my head. “I take it you heard about my outburst in Opelucid Gym? With Uncle Marshal?”

Caitlin hesitates before carefully saying, “Yes, I heard something about it.”

I nod. “So forgive me if I’m being selfish, but I think you could help me with that.”

“I can help you with that without being a part of the Elite Four.”

“But you’ve met me. Hell, you seen what I’m doing right now, trying to persuade you to stay. I’m . . .” I wince, thinking of Colress. “I’m trusting. I see the best in people. I ignore their faults. How am I supposed to navigate being a Champion if I let everyone take advantage of me because of my goddamn bleeding heart?”

Caitlin’s hands fist in her skirt. “You want me to stay to use me.”

“I want you to stay to help me.” I look at her, and I take a deep breath. “I want you to stay so you can prove to yourself that you’re not a coward. You’re a survivor. You’ve seen Iris’s body count first hand. I won’t fault you for being afraid of that. But I want you to see your faults and build off of them. We won’t be killing people’s pokemon while I’m in charge, you can be sure of that. You won’t have to stifle yourself so completely to distance yourself from the deaths.”

She gives one incredulous laugh. “You’re serious.”

“I am,” I say, and I feel confident in my decision here. “Take a break. Go home. Go see your family, and remind yourself why you took your journey in the first place. You wanted to improve yourself, and you did. Iris tried to destroy you, and you’re still standing. So build yourself back up stronger. Build your team up stronger. This country needs you, and I’m going to need you.”

Caitlin laughs again, but it sounds weak and thick. “You really are a bleeding heart,” she says, and I give a weak smile. “You won’t last a single tenure as Champion like that.”

“Guess I’ll need someone with a sharp noodle to balance me out,” I say. Caitlin nods, and she wipes at her cheeks.

“Right,” she says. She smooths out her skirts, and she pulls her hair back behind her shoulders. She levies her gaze on me for a long moment, and she says, “Well. If you’re giving advice to me, let me give some to you.”

I straighten. “Yes?”

“I don’t think burying it is the right move,” she says, and my heart skips another beat. “I buried my psychic powers. I let them get wan and weak, and it’s made me weak. It’s a gift I can control and use. I know it is. I’ve done it before.” She shakes her head. “So whatever you do with the remnants of Zekrom in you, Hugh Matisse, you can’t ignore it. You need to focus on controlling it. If you can, it will aid you far more than it will hurt you.”

I wet my lips. I nod sharply. “Right.”

Caitlin sticks her hand out to me. “To building up stronger?”

I take it. “To building up stronger.” I smile. “And to knights protecting a bleeding heart princess.”

She laughs brightly at me then.

***​

I’m gonna buy the ticket to see Josey when they spot Colress in the south outside of Nuvema Town. This time when I say I’m going ‘cause I got unfinished business, not even Uncle Marshal argues with me.

Route 17 and 18 are new, mostly unexplored routes in Unova. The idea was, because Nuvema is so isolated, to run a new shipping route to Castelia City. However, the currents out there are too strong and dangerous. Once several ships sank, they gave up the prospect.

Team Plasma’s frigate, however, wasn’t constrained to the seas. Flight would easily bring them over the dangerous waters and allow them to keep a secret base far from the League’s prying eyes. What better a place for Colress to play his mad scientist games?

Uncle Marshal is on my left and Alder on my right. I don’t see the International Police, but I know they’re here. The League has been working closely with them after Iris destabilized the region. Something tells me this is a test for me. They wanna see how I work under pressure.

You aren’t yourself! You let that THING get to you! That monster’s twisted you up until I can’t even recognize you! You had the biggest heart of anyone I knew, and now you’re letting it overtake you!

However, I ain’t here to play their games. I ain’t here for nothing but Colress.

“I’m taking Colress when I get in there,” I tell them. Alder sends me a worried look while Uncle Marshal just looks resigned.

“Fine,” he says. “We’ll clear a path.” He grabs my shoulder. I tear my eyes away from the warehouse to look at him. “You all right?”

Other than my heart that’s squeezing to a pulp? I drag in a deep breath. I nod. “I’m ready,” I tell him, and I am. I feel almost tranquil with my fury, like it’s the eye of the storm. I look up at the overcast day. The wind is strong, and a squall is blowing in.

I ain’t no fool. I know what this is. I’ve noticed the unusual weather patterns. The depression and the rain. It’s me. It’s Zekrom. My anger and unrest keep drawing the storms in, just like I did when I squared off against Josey. Zekrom fuels the skies around me with their might, assisting me even when they’re gone.

Uncle Marshal releases his machamp. Alder releases his speedy accelgor. I choose Wiggles, and my eelektross grumbles in my ear. I smooth his fins, and I relish feeling the electricity crackling under my fingers.

“Let’s go,” Uncle Marshal says, and he takes point. His machamp breaks down the front doors, and we’ve found the remaining stronghold of Team Neo Plasma. I’ve never been on a strike force before, but I follow the squadron as long as I need to, watching as Uncle Marshal and Alder move with practiced ease. It’s routine for them to mop up Plasmas, and they work as a joint team, mentor and apprentice.

When I spy the stairwell leading down, I know where I need to be. I shout at Uncle Marshal, “I’m going!” and bolt with Wiggles on my heels. I think he yells something back, but I lose it in the din of battle. The door is electrically locked, but Wiggles overloads it. Uncle Marshal’s throh forces it open for me.

In the basement, it’s a mess. His laboratory is in shambles, disassembled to the bones. Computer cords are flung about like robotic intestines, papers are strewn, and the room is nearly gutted bare, like a fish filleted open. There are three other scientists in the room with boxes full of hard drives and whatever sensitive information they’re trying to dispose of. When I come running down the stairs, they stop and freeze like kids with their hands in a candy jar.

Colress is directly across from me. He’s bent over a computer that’s hooked to a machine not unlike the one in the Plasma frigate. The one that held Kyurem captive. Only this time, the creature inside? That ain’t a dragon. I ain’t even sure it’s a pokemon.

It looks like a bipedal bug. Its got that kind of silhouette like a scizor. The plating on it ain’t natural. Its hide is purple and gleams metallic in the fluorescent lights. Its red eyes glow with wild hatred. Pointed claws are scratching up and cracking the glass imprisoning it. It’s hooked up to an array of cords. There’s a cannon on its back, just like the frigate.

I feel the heat of righteous anger flood back into me. The anger of storms. The anger of Zekrom. I open my mouth and bellow, “COLRESS!” and thunder cracks overhead.

He jumps like he’s been stung. He whips around, white coat flaring, and when he sees me, he scowls. “Hugh,” he says, and there’s no warmth of love in his voice. He hates me. He thinks he holds the morally superior ground because he ain’t never had to kill no one, but he sided with a terrorist organization.

Wiggles growls, circling restlessly around me when the other scientists shift. “I ain’t here for no one but you,” I say to him, and I feel it. The latent power of Zekrom surging up in me. My hands tremble, and sparks snap at my fingers. I think of Caitlin’s advice. I try not to let the fear control me, I try to control it. I jerk my head. “Get your goons out of here, or they’ll bite it in the crossfire.”

Colress’s teeth clack together. “You don’t have the guts for it.”

“I ain’t know, Colress, don’t I? Ain’t I a cold blooded killer now? Didn’t I not blink, not hesitate?”

Colress is pale. I’m bluffing like a mother fucker, but he don’t see it. He thinks I’ll really do it, and for some reason, that hurts the worst. It’s like he never really knew me. He says stiffly, “Take what you can and get out. I’ll deal with this.” The scientists grab their boxes, stuff some things in them, and go rushing towards a back door that I can’t see from here.

He releases a magnezone, and my heart pangs when I think of Magnets. “Come now, Hugh,” he says, and he talks at me like I’m some wild dog he’s got cornered. “Things don’t need to be like this. Team Neo Plasma is done for.”

“Not while you’re still here in charge of it,” I spit.

“I’m not in charge,” he says. “I never followed their beliefs. My goal was always to improve the bond between humans and pokemon, and to fix the dragons.”

“Well congrats!” I give a harsh laugh. “The dragons are whole, and you didn’t do nothing! You made a monster! Josey was the one that fixed them.”

“And I thank her for that,” he snaps, “but now I’m packing up. I’m leaving Unova, and I don’t intend to come back. This country can burn for all I care. I’m just taking a few essentials with me.”

The creature in the glass tube is screaming, thrashing in its bonds just like Kyurem did. “And that thing’s essential?” I say, nodding to this strange pokemon. “What is it?”

“A creation of my own making,” he says with a sniff. “Beautiful, isn’t it? I call it Genesect.”

“Stupid name.” Now I’m insulting him like I’m thirteen.

“It was my backup plan.” He steamrolls forward, ignoring me. “If I couldn’t fix the dragons, I was just going to kill them, and my Genesect was going to do it.” He leers coolly at me. “Of course, I don’t need it now, but it’s a pokemon stronger than any other. I modified and upgraded it myself. So I’ll be taking it with me.”

“It don’t seem like it likes you much,” I needle at him. I bite my bottom lip hard against the lump in my throat. “The feeling’s mutual.”

Colress scoffs at me. “Oh do stop being such a whiny bitch about things, Hugh. We both had expectations in each other and we were both disappointed.”

My back stiffens. He kicks on my heart while I’m down, but he stokes the fires in me. “I don’t know why you’re disappointed in me,” I snarl. “At the end of things, I had control over Zekrom. They bowed to MY will! I held Grimsley in my fist and we let him go! We fought Reshiram into submission! I’m well on my way to becoming this region’s new Champion! But of course, you wouldn’t care about my achievements. One black mark on me is enough to make you despise me.”

“When that black mark is killing people! I can’t forgive you for becoming just like N!”

“I’m not!” I scream at him. “I ain’t like that! What do I have to do to prove it to you?”

Colress sniffs his nose up. “You can’t,” he says, and his statement is cold. I reel back, shocked that even now he could still write me off. “You’re a handsome, charismatic man, Hugh, and a good fuck. You can charm the pants off anyone. But you can’t hide the truth, and that truth is you’re a murderer, plain and simple. And when this region finds out, no amount of charm will endear the people to you. They’ll know you for what you are, pretty as a whitewashed tomb filled with nothing but rotting corpses.”

For a long moment, I stare at him with my heart in my throat and tears burning my eyes. How can he say that? I—I know what I’ve done. I know it, but he can’t just—I can make up for it. I know I can. I ain’t just someone pretty enough to fuck. I ain’t here to be taken advantage of. I have my merits! I ain’t rotten on the inside! I know I’m a good person! Zekrom roars in the clouds above, and static dances over my fingers. This whole region believes in me. Zekrom picked me as their Chosen, and I’m secure in that rock of knowing they judged my soul and decided my merits outweighed my faults.

Just because Colress can’t see my worth don’t mean I ain’t got it. Even if I loved him. Even if he never loved me.

My mouth opens, and static crackles in my breath. “Thunder,” I snarl, and Wiggles charges up. The patterns on his skin light up, and electricity shreds the room. The power surge floods the building and blows the bulbs. The floodlights kick on.

In the depths of the lightning, I hear Colress calling, “Tri Attack!” and his magnezone screeches. It winces away from Wiggles’s power and comes at us with a triple beam of light. I know I’m better than Colress. He ain’t nothing compared to us, and I extend a hand, ordering, “Through it! Brick Break!” Wiggles dives through their attack, arms held high.

Colress washes of color. He blurts, “Reflect!” like the fool he is. All brains, no experience, no connection, no heart. Wiggles smashes through the Reflect like a sheet of glass, and his arms snap down on the pokemon. The magnezone squeals at a painful pitch, like nails on a chalkboard. It collapses beneath a critical hit.

“Return!” Colress grapples for his next ball. “Will O Wisp!” and I stare at a pokemon I only vaguely recognize as a rotom.

Bulbs of fire shoot from its funnel. I growl, “Thunder!” and Wiggles lights up again. Thunder and lightning crack in the room, deafening my ears, and white light tattoos on my eyelids. Wiggles tears through the rotom despite the ineffectiveness of same-type damage. My eelektross unleashes lightning like he’s possessed by Zekrom, a sleek, deadly eel channeling the might of a god.

“Hydro Pump!”

I cock my head. “Thunder.”

There ain’t nothing fancy about the way I’m battling. I’ve seen Colress battle. His pokemon have more talent than he does. The geyser of water blasts out, and Wiggles worms out of the way. He torches the rotom. It jabbers and squeals and spits sparks. The rotom falls in a heap and retreats into its washing machine, unwilling to battle.

I wait placidly on my heels for Colress’s next. He’s clenching his jaw and clenching his hands. His face is red. I give him my sweetest smile.

“What’s wrong, Colress?” I croon to him. “Outclassed?” His face puckers like a tomato. My smile falls. “You’re the one who decided you’d rather be against me than with me.”

He throws another ball and shouts, “Shift Gear!” I wait and let him set up. I want him to know exactly how outclassed he is. I want him to see the echoes of Zekrom in me. The power. The sovereignty. My heart hurts, but I won’t have him lord it over me. I’ve been true this whole time. I never once faltered or changed my morals. He deceived me. He can lie in the bed he’s made.

“Gear Grind!”

I watch them close in. I could wreck him with a Brick Break, but I don’t. The storm is raging above. The basement windows are flashing with the lightning outside. In the dim floodlights from the backup generator, Wiggles is crackling with the charge in the air. The echo of Zekrom’s roar fills my ears like a flood.

“Thunder.”

The klinklang shreds Wiggles’s skin. He squirms and snarls. The bolt of lightning leaves ozone burning the air and stinging my nose. I set my jaw when the klinklang falls, not dead, but wounded. Even with all this power, I ain’t gonna kill his pokemon. Unlike him, I don’t budge in what I believe in.

“Well?” Colress looks at me with wild eyes. It’s like he’s just now seeing me, Chosen of Zekrom, chosen Champion of the people, chosen by everyone but him. I swallow down hard on the lump in my throat and the sting in my eyes. Not now. I won’t give him that satisfaction. “Who’s next?”

Wiggles rattles with a guttural noise. The burn saps his strength, and he’s hurt, but he can take more. I don’t think I’ll sweep his whole team with just Wiggles, but I’ve at least put the fear of Zekrom in him.

Colress is pale white, like he’s been sucked of all blood. He grabs his next, and he calls, “Rock Slide!” when his metagross lands on the field. Colress lunges for his machine.

I jolt when he rapidly punches buttons and flips switches. Wiggles takes a beating, and I don’t take my chances. I call, “Wiggles, return!” and switch out for someone fresh. Someone who can take a hit. “Romulus!” My lucario lands on the field with a growl. Air hisses, machinery clacks, and the pod’s glass rises.

Colress whirls around, and he shouts, “Techno Blast!”

The creature—Genesect, that’s what he calls it—creeps out of its cage. The cannon on its back coalesces with energy, and I ain’t waiting to find out what it can do.

“Detect!”

Romulus sets his feet on the ground and bunches down on his thighs. Colress scrambles with his Metagross between us, and I grab Posey’s weathered pokeball.

The blast that comes from that thing’s back is immense. Romulus leaps over it like a ballerina. The energy singes the room like a hyper beam, and it blows a hole in the wall that shakes the building. The flood lights flicker. The Genesect chitters and thrashes—it’s caught in the wiring attached to it.

Colress is grabbing colored hard drives and papers. My jaw sets tight.

“Romulus, keep it busy! Avoid that blast!” I toss Posey in opposition to his metagross. “Sacred Sword!”

“Meteor Mash!”

Our pokemon crash together, Posey stripping the metagross’s color like paint. Romulus swipes at the Genesect, but it’s all too easy to keep it occupied. The creature wrestles in the cords, snapping them, and the Techno Blast shreds the room again. I wince, throwing my hands over my head when rubble falls. Colress runs for the exit.

“Surf!”

Water swamps the room. Colress yelps and goes sprawling out, dropping everything he was carrying. His metagross groans, pushed back by the onslaught. The Genesect screams, and it sounds like it’s in pain.

Colress freezes, sopping wet and wild with terror. “Colress,” I say with a warning in my voice. “Don’t—”

“Rock Slide!”

I flinch backwards when he presses the attack again. Colress scrambles, grabbing two of the drives and leaving everything else. He bolts for the exit with his metagross on his tail.

My tongue catches on an order for Posey when Romulus yips in pain. He’s blasted into the wall by the Techno Blast, and my heart jumps and stutters.

“Romulus!” The Genesect rips and yanks from its prison. Wires snap. Fluid sprays on the floor. “Wait!” I holler at it. “Wait, stop! You’re hurting yourself!”

It screeches and turns on me. Its cannon levels my way, and Posey’s bulk leaps. I shout and fall backwards when he takes it face-first.

“Romulus!” My lucario is there, swift and steady, even if there’s grit in his teeth and smoke rising from his metal skin. “Sand Attack!”

Posey whines and shakes his head. I return him while Romulus dashes sand in the pokemon’s eyes. “Cupcake, Attract! Sand Attack!”

The next blast flies wide. Parts of the walls and ceiling crumble, and my heart squeezes tight. It’ll kill itself by caving in the building if it don’t stop! I release Blitzkrieg. “Thunder Wave!”

The poor Genesect’s eyes are practically crossed, as far as bug eyes can go. It’s thrashing, somewhere between the rage, confused attraction, and pain as its limbs lock up. I return Blitzkrieg so it has one less pokemon to aim at, and the infatuation holds, for however briefly.

Feet thunder down the stairs. “Hugh!” I look back, and Uncle Marshal is there, conkeldurr on his heels. He gestures for me. “Come on! We’re getting out!”

“I can’t leave it here!” I shout back at him. “It’s hurt! I ain’t know what he’s done to it!” The Techno Blast charges up again. The Genesect chitters and blows out a chunk of the ceiling when Romulus is too nimble to be hit with Detect. “Bud!” I throw my lilligant into the wrecked lab. “Sleep Powder!”

He scatters pollen, but the creature wrenches free of the machine. It folds up like a broken action figure into a disk, and it flies across the room.

Uncle Marshal jolts when it makes a pass for us. He punches his conkeldurr’s bicep. “Stabilize this building!” and the hulking pokemon grunts, rushing to the compromised portions of the wall. The Genesect’s Techno Blast rips through Bud—petals and leaves go flying, and he squeals, collapsing with nervous twitches.

A pokeball pops. “Psychic!” Uncle Marshal’s medicham extends its hands, and I watch as the panicked Genesect freezes midair.

I jolt. “Now, Bud!”

He rises in time to cover the Genesect in a thick Sleep Powder. Cupcake lingers nervously near me when it falls in a heap, dead asleep. I approach, arm out.

“Douse it, keep dousing it, Bud, make sure it don’t get back up—”

I look for Colress. The things he tried to take are still scattered across the floor. He’s long gone, and he even left his dragon killer in fear of me.

“What the fuck is that thing?”

Uncle Marshal pulls up next to me. He’s sweating big buckets after the adrenaline of the battle. I mop my brow, staring at the corridor Colress took. “He’s getting away,” I say numbly to him. “Through there. Can you—?”

“I’ve got it,” and Uncle Marshal hustles after him. I know Colress got a head start. There ain’t no way he’s getting caught. I feel like I let him go.

I look down on the pokemon he’s made. Cupcake and Romulus linger near me, afraid of it. I return Bud and sigh, feeling heavy. I got distracted by this thing instead of taking down Colress like I should have. But I’m here now. I can’t leave it.

I palm an empty ultra ball. I set my jaw. I think of Mittens, so feral to the end. What’ll the difference be here? Do I really think it’s going to end any different than another violent Plasma-created pokemon that needs put down?

A fountain of cords sprout from its back. I’m put in mind of Josey racing to save her dragon no matter what, and I think, Mittens had years to be conditioned into changing. This thing is brand new. It was afraid. It’s hurt. It might have been created as a weapon, but it ain’t gotta live that way. I can show it different. I HAVE to show it different.

I tap the ultra ball to its head. The Genesect disappears inside, and after three clicks, it chimes with a successful catch.




Anyways, Colress flees to Alola and is upset Grimsley got there first.

In the initial draft, Josey was the one who pursued Colress and found the Genesect, but it makes much better sense narratively for Hugh to go kick his ex's ass almost exclusively with Thunder because he was battling lazily. Also, I REALLY wanted to introduce Benga?? But alas, I really didn't need to show off his battle, and Caitlin had a far more interesting conversation with Hugh. Also, I wasn't prepared for Caitlin to insert herself here and bloat my chapter over 6k.

Also! It's been determined that GitM will be 40 chapters if I keep to par like this, so hang on to your britches!



.....oh? what happened to josey? why is it the hugh matisse show? you want a josey chapter? fine, i can update you where josey is next time.
 

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