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AxisVactaire

Nuzlockologist
Pokédex No.
1949
Caught
May 5, 2020
Messages
78
Nature
Quiet
Pokémon Type
Electric, Psychic
Spent eight consecutive hours reading the entirety of this wild ride, and now I'm all caught up.

Considering I randomly stumbled across this by complete accident back in May when I first joined the forums (and just got around to reading it tonight), I'm really happy I found this.

Really dark/emotional stuff, and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THAT! I am a big sucker for drama & whatnot like this, and you absolutely nailed it the whole way.

GG making it through the whole run alive, by the way (barely, but still). Every single death (be it Pokemon or otherwise) just tugs at my heartstrings (not Iris though, she's a five-letter word who deserves to rot into the Earth's core, and had it coming).

I think one thing that I most enjoyed in particular (as someone who used to binge on stuff like the Final Destination movies & the 1000 Ways To Die series years ago), was just how in depth you went into with really describing all the anatomical/forensic context & detail for every Pokemon/non-Pokemon throughout the story, even the really messy/gory stuffs. You held nothing back in that regard, and I really appreciate that.

As someone who is currently writing a borderline-dystopian Nuzlocke story thingy of their own, this was especially pleasant to have read the entirety of. I look forward to seeing more from you in the future~

P.S. Josey & Hugh deserve a million hugs, Ingo & Marshal, please smother them in love & affection, they need you ;3;

P.S.S. I'm convinced Josey is essentially this grim reaper sort of complex
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,095
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
You went with that as the actual title, I thought it was just a placeholder, I’m SCREAMING laughing oh my god

Oh great, Mittens is getting put down and I’m crying already, fantastic

Ohhh, I like Hugh bonding with Caitlin over having power control issues? That’s kinda sweet in a weird way. And it’s cool that Hugh doesn’t want to stop being a trusting person, but he is also fully aware that it might put him in danger, so instead of not trusting people he decides to surround himself with people who are more suspicious than him. I like that.

Ugh it HURTS how Hugh’s murder-bluffs work because Colress doesn’t see that he’s still the best boy, because Colress is THE WORST and I can’t wait for him and Genesect to get their asses kicked. Oh my god, Colress is SERIOUSLY the worst, acting like Hugh is evil forever because he killed somebody when his mind wasn’t his own, when Colress is KNOWINGLY torturing Pokemon and using Hugh? OBLITERATE THAT TWINK, HUGH

Oh man, Colress gets away to get his ass kicked another day, but I am TEARING UP for Genesect, the pain it’s in, and how soft and good Hugh is, prioritizing saving its life over his revenge. BEST BOY 2KFOREVER
 

Thirteenth

Number XIV
Writer
Pokédex No.
14
Caught
May 20, 2019
Messages
1,724
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 thought of Josey and her mom too when Hugh had to put Mittens down... It's a nice thing to bookend this chapter with, basically opening with him giving up on a Pokemon too conditioned to change and giving a chance to one that there might still be hope for. Truly too big a heart, that one.

I know that scene with Caitlin just kind of happened, but I'm glad it did. She and Hugh share some of the same problems, and I hope that they can help each other take control of their abilities. I also hope Hugh lasts longer than a year as champion, Unova needs someone like him leading the charge.

Colress, you damn coward.
 

localhoney

grook
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
2002
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
219
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.
Wasn't expecting to see Genesect make an appearance, but I do like how the chapter is bookended by Hugh's bleeding heart and giving him another chance to rehabilitate a Pokemon (to echo 13th).

I'm very invested in how the league rebuilds, even if it means Cheren gets moved forward, the smarmy prick. I am curious to see what's going on with Josey and her latent connection with Kyurem. We've had a few chapters to see how it's manifesting in Hugh, so I'm interested to see how it manifests in her and where you take this in the end.
 

Missy

i left my heart in alola
Writer
Pokédex No.
94
Caught
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
119
Nature
Lax
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Tough
Pokédex Entry
nanu for hire (rates may vary, payment upfront)
i lean down and give hugh the smallest little smooch on his forehead
 

Alan900900900

Lurker extraordinaire
Globetrotter
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
183
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
334
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Ice
Pokédex Entry
This Pokemon is a master of having too many projects at the same time. Also, Pikablu.
I don't think I've ever commented on here, but I just gotta say this story has me floored. I binged it all at one point, back when it was up to Chapter 26, and I was impressed then, but... man this conclusion. I simply love this story so much and I want these kids (I say, being 19 years old myself) to just be happy dammit!

This isn't gonna be a big eloquent comment like the ones I've seen above, because I simply cannot find the words to express how much I love this tale, so I'm just gonna finish with: I love Genesect, I can't wait to see how you handle it, and our protags better have an at least moderately happy ending or else.
 

Whozawhatcha

i have too many projects
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
490
Nature
Lonely
Pokémon Type
Fire, Flying
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #227
@AxisVactaire holy god, i live in awe and fear of you. EIGHT hours?? christ. that's dangerous levels of flattery man. I'm glad you really dug all the heavy emotional shit, writing Josey has been a wild ride, and her pokemon even more so. They were a real pleasure to use and raise in game, so it really hurt when they all bit it in the end. I've got a couple more chapters and an epilogue, so I hope you enjoy the rest of this ride!

@SayleeK me?? placeholder title?? NEVER! Yeah, Caitlin was a surprising addition to the chapter? I didn't plan that at all, but I really liked it a lot when it did happen. Ngl, I feel like she probably ends up being one of Hugh's closest friends and colleagues, and it'll be good for him to have someone to talk to about things like that. I always kind of knew Colress would get away? But Genesect, initially I had more Josey content for post E4, but it just made so much more sense for it to be Hugh, especially with regards to Colress.

@Thirteenth Hugh I think has always had this flaw of being this lovable bleeding heart that people can take advantage of. He rarely puts himself first, which is why I think he and Caitlin will end up having a very long lasting friendship. (Face it, Hugh NEEDS a knight protecting him, hahah.) The bookend kinda happened unwittingly? I hadn't thought about how it framed so nicely.

@localhoney I'm glad you've been enjoying it, even the nitty gritty League details. It's really nice for me to get it down on paper how Hugh's slowly integrating himself into a role of Champion even before he has the title.

@Missy hugh appreciates your smooch and will give you one back

@Alan900900900 oh man! oh i appreciate hearing that so much, i'm glad you've enjoyed this! you don't have to be eloquent, seriously, hearing it expressed how you have is excellent, I'm glad you're hooked, and I hope the rest of this is a cathartic ending for you!

“I can feel the draw
I can feel it pulling me back
It’s pulling me back
It’s pulling me back”

The Draw __ Bastille



Everything’s all wrong.

I shouldn’t be cold anymore. Kyurem’s gone. I fixed the dragons. What cruel, stupid bullshit is it that I can fix the legendary dragons, but I still can’t fix myself?

The apartment is cold. Frost crackles over the walls in the dying summer, the fall leaves scattered outside. Summer is breaking. It feels good to finally feel the breeze as cool for once. I was dying in the summer. I was dying in the heat of the incinerator. I feel like I’m dying all the time.

. . . I can still hear it calling to me. The Chasm. It’s in my blood, some siren call that sounds sweeter and sweeter every day.

And Ingo tries, he really does. He’s good, a goodness I don’t deserve. And he tries to fill me up, but I feel like a black hole, consuming all he is. I suck up his goodness, his happiness, his efforts and his love until I can see he’s relieved to go on a long work trip conducting his train. He’s grateful for the break from me. I don’t know why he sticks around. I know I fucking wouldn’t.

And so, I get Kyurem’s voice out of my head, but not out of my life. I thought things would be better. I have the money to go to college. I don’t need to work like this, but I have to. If I stop, I’m afraid I won’t begin again. I’m afraid if I stop, then that’s it. I’ll give up. There won’t be anything tethering me anymore. Work is consistent and immediate. It’s keeping me grounded.

It’s funny, how when I yearn for home, I think of the Chasm first.

Hugh still hasn’t visited me. And of course he hasn’t. He’s Unova’s fucking golden boy. He’s too busy for me. I’d only hold him back. Erased from history and erased from his life too. And Uncle Marshal? I know he’s annoyed with me. I know he’s disappointed in me, wasting my life in a dead end job and sulking and not living up to his standards of grieving. So fucking what. Loss doesn’t work the same for everyone. We don’t get to pick what fixes us, what keeps us going.

I feel it’s draw in my bones. Maybe if I went back to the Chasm, I could find those dog tags I meant to find. I deserve at least one goddamn piece of my papa.

But I keep going. You know, I wake up, I go to work, I pay the bills and eat food. It might take a gallon of coffee a day spiked with a hefty serving of whiskey, but I get it done. I take care of Lotus now that Uncle Marshal fucking dumped the poor pokemon on me. He’s a contrary pokemon, just like his owner, and pushy as hell.

Cheren’s breathing down my neck at work too. I should quit, but I don’t. I don’t need anyone’s fucking help. I’m a grown ass woman who can take care of myself and deal with my shit.

Summer is breaking. Winter is coming. I’m so fucking glad. I’m ready for the cold to get in my bones and never leave. I’m ready for it to numb me. I ache for cold that rivals the Chasm.

And that’s not the worst, is it? The worst is me. I’m the unfeeling monster. I don’t care about what I’ve done. The pokemon I killed. The people I killed. I feel like whatever morals I had died the second Kyurem got in me. I should be torn up about it, you know? Any decent human being with sympathy, and empathy, would give a shit about being a murderer.

But you know what, it’s no fucking skin off my back. Fuck them, and fuck their pokemon too. I wasn’t like N and Hugh, with their fucking precious ideals they were too afraid to break. The ones who coddled the enemy and kept giving them second chances which led to them going back out and doing the same goddamn evils. And I’m not like Amittai or Iris, with their truth that unless you put them down, it’s the only way they’ll stay down and out of your way. I’m not consumed with rage and the lust for the kill. I didn’t take pleasure in it.

I just am. I’m empty, and cold, and unforgiving. Death comes for everything. Who’s to say whether I had to do it, or someone else, or something else. It doesn’t matter. What matters is I’m here, and I’m existing, and my time will come.

I lay in a starburst of ice in my apartment, body in pain as the cold creeps up on me. And so what if I’m like Kyurem? They devoured what they could and felt no remorse. They did what they had to, and so did I.

The nights are cold now, but they’re still too hot. The Chasm sings to me in my dreams. Even Mr. Sandman is distancing himself when he finds me waking encased in icy sheets in the morning.

My heart hurts. I stare at my empty apartment. I’m a horrible, empty person. I’m just as bad as the people I killed. Why don’t I care? I’m just like Iris. I don’t care about anyone or anything.

I curl up on the floor and wrench through sobs. It’s freezing. My tears crust my eyes shut. The Chasm screams to me, and I scream back.

Finally, I’m possessed with the urge to do something. I return Lotus. I scribble out a message with numb fingers in my dark apartment, and I address it to Hugh and Uncle Marshal. I pocket a wad of money, and I leave the house. I leave everything. I send the letter along with Lotus’s pokeball by snail mail. Then I buy a train ticket to Lacunosa Town that leaves tonight.

The Chasm draws me home, and I’m grateful to go.

depression came back to kick my ass real bad this past week just in time to write this little extra, but i seem like I'm pulling out of it now. anyways, josey is having a time of it and definitely spiraling. i haven't written anything this heavy since the Soraya depression chapter. silver linings fans where you at

next chapter should be one of my favorites if i can deliver on it properly. it's been in my head for a long time.
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,095
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
OOOOOOOOOOOOFT. Josey, honey, noooo! I mean, depression do be like that, it keeps coming back and back and back, but goddamn Q_Q
 

Thirteenth

Number XIV
Writer
Pokédex No.
14
Caught
May 20, 2019
Messages
1,724
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.
Oh Josey... I'm vaguely hopeful that returning to the Chasm will give her, idk, some sense of closure or something that she can hold onto?? Idk...

God, what're Marshall and Hugh gonna do once they get that letter?
 

Missy

i left my heart in alola
Writer
Pokédex No.
94
Caught
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
119
Nature
Lax
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Tough
Pokédex Entry
nanu for hire (rates may vary, payment upfront)
(silver linings fan here i am!) but ughhh you're not allowed to do this, sink josey into cold, have her be alone, the husk the war left behind, the refuse

Disgusting. No more kisses for you
 

Whozawhatcha

i have too many projects
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
490
Nature
Lonely
Pokémon Type
Fire, Flying
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #231
@SayleeK it do be like that sometimes, which is why I think Josey and Hugh will never be fully rid of their dragons? Because for Josey, Kyurem is her depression; for Hugh, Zekrom is his temper. They represent things neither wants to keep, but they're a part of them and they have to learn how to manage them so they can live their best life. I find their fraught relationships with their dragons very intriguing.

@Thirteenth i'm basically gonna copy-paste what I said to Sayleek, but I don't think Josey and Hugh will ever be fully rid of their dragons. For Josey, Kyurem is her depression; for Hugh, Zekrom is his temper. They represent things neither wants to keep, but they're a part of them and they have to learn how to manage them so they can live their best life. I don't think they'll ever be magically cured, but I think eventually they'll learn better coping mechanisms and find their peace, in a way.

@Missy oh fuck! no kisses?? shit shit, i gotta fix this.......

“And I went home
Chasing twisters in the canyon
My cathedral is the badlands
Dust and devils on my conscience
Come back to me darlin’

And I've been waiting for so long now
I can feel you in the hollow
And every cloud on the horizon
Come back to me darlin’”

Chasing Twisters __ Delta Rae



I hate that we’re making so much progress with Jitterbug but couldn’t make none with Mittens.

Jitterbug is what I’m calling the Genesect. The first several days, it’s just as wild as we expect it to be, and we’re running Protect and Light Screen trying to keep it from destroying things.

The break comes with Cupcake and her Attract. The more we use it, the more Jitterbug calms down. Jitterbug ends up taking a shine to Cupcake. Jitterbug stops trying to blow up the joint when Cupcake is out with me.

So I spend a week with Cupcake talking to Jitterbug and getting him used to my voice. I feed him plants and seeds, and one day find he’s sweet on honey. I inch away from the wall and closer to him. Jitterbug is resentful and hides behind Cupcake, but doesn’t attack.

He’s real scared, I think. Brand new to the world and with some sort of unhinged instinct. From what we salvage from Colress’s lab, Jitterbug was made from a fossil pokemon, but twisted up with experimentation. Poor thing’s almost more steel than he is carapace anymore. Colress dropped two computer drives on his way out, and it turns out they’re for Jitterbug. The notes left behind detail them as a Burn and Shock drive. They change the typing of the Techno Blast he’s been using. There’s a Water and Ice drive missing. I think of how Colress said he was going to kill the dragons if he couldn’t fix them, and I know this is how he was gonna do it.

Colress made a killer. I ain’t want it to be like that. I hope I can teach it to love instead. Hell, I ain’t even know what I’m gonna do with it. I can’t take it out on the gym track. I can’t release it. Maybe he’ll be a glorified pet. Maybe he’ll be like a real big pup.

I’m five feet from him today when a knock sounds on the door. It cracks open, and Jitterbug chitters, backing defensively behind Cupcake. She coos and soothes him, her big ears touching his face.

“Hugh.”

That’s Uncle Marshal. I dump the flowers in the floor for Jitterbug, stand, dust off my slacks, and exit the room.

Uncle Marshal gives me a look. “What’s with the flowers?”

As he says this, I feel the one tucked haphazardly behind my ear tip and fall. “Oh, these,” and I smile. I pick up the rose and tuck it back. “Jitterbug likes flowers.” Uncle Marshal looks unconvinced, and I laugh. “Yeah! He does. I brought him these,” and I point above my ear. “Seems to like ‘em a lot, but I’m sorta cycling through flowers now trying to find his favorite.”

The flower wobbles and falls, but Uncle Marshal catches it. He puts it directly on top of my head, and I snort a laugh. “I knew you’d be a rose boy.”

“They’re nice, but I think that gig suits our rosy Josey better.”

Something softens in his gaze. “You’re right about that.” He grunts. “Listen, Alder’s got someone for you to meet.”

I straighten. “Oh?”

Uncle Marshal nods. “Come on. I’ll take you to see him.”


***​

I hate that I’ve apparently got a type, and it’s tall blond with big blue eyes, because I take one look at Siebold Leblanc and remember I ain’t been kissed in a real long time now. And lawd is he looking fine enough to eat in that white pantsuit.

He extends his hand to me, and I take a very soft hand. “Bonjour,” he says, and a thrill lights me up from head to toe. This man is EXTREMELY French and I am extremely into it. I gotta pay special attention not to get lost in that accent. “I hear you’re in need of a stand in member of your Elite Four so you can finally take the crown. I’ve come from Kalos so you can prove your worth.”

I’m in need of something, that’s for sure—“I’m honored,” I stammer, trying not to stare too hard at him. What the fuck, I don’t need to rebound like a teenager. I look at Alder. “I thought Emmet wasn’t ready yet?”

“He’s not,” Alder says. In the plush entryway to the Elite Four, he gestures to Siebold. “You’re here for two weeks, correct?”

“I am,” Siebold says. “I’ve come early. Unova is the last of us to reframe pokemon battling away from a blood sport. I’m here not only as a stand in for your battle, but also to help be a reference to turn this country progressive.”

I straighten. “Of course!” and my face feels hot. I cut my eyes to Alder. “I . . . I wish someone would have told me he was coming. I was planning on seeing a friend.”

Sure, I could still go down and see Josey, but it’s a six day trip down and a six day trip back. I ain’t got the time if Siebold is leaving in two weeks. My stomach twists up. I feel bad I can’t come see her yet. Sending a letter somehow feels weak. If Kyurem is still in her, I’ve got to go see her.

Alder opens his mouth to say something, but I cut him off, saying to Siebold, “It’ll be good to work with you in the time you have. It’ll be good to have guidance.”

Siebold nods with curt approval at me. God, is that my type? Tight asses? I mean, a tight ass is good, but a bitch ass isn’t. “I wasn’t expecting someone so young, but the Unovan dragons have always preferred the youthful.”

I can’t help but lift a brow at him. “You’re not that much older than me.”

He quirks a brow back. “I do believe experience is the lead in this case.”

“I have plenty of experience, if that’s what you’re worried about,” I say stubbornly. “I can handle myself.”

“Can you?” Siebold flicks his eyes up and down me. Alder stands to the side, a cinch in his brow, utterly confused. I’m walking this tight wire between actually talking about my oncoming tenure as Champion, and uh . . . . not. “This position isn’t easy, you understand. It’s hard. The kind of pressure and expectations you’ll have to take aren’t for the faint of heart.”

“I know,” I say. “I ain’t gonna let anyone down.” I bite my bottom lip and swerve the conversation into a concrete location. “I’m gonna be the best Champion I can. I wanna bring Unova into a bright future.”

He stares at me with those baby blues for a long moment, and then, his lips quirk into a smile. “I think I see what this country sees in you, Hugh Matisse,” he says. He looks over me again, and I definitely understand what’s going on here. “It will be a pleasure to teach you a few tricks of the trade.”

I try and fail to bite my tongue. “Who knows, maybe I’ll teach you something before it’s all over with.” Siebold smiles then, cocky arrogance in his eyes.

“I think we’ll all learn from each other,” Alder says, and both Siebold and I finally shift our attention to the third wheeler. “We’ll have to get our rest. It’s going to be a busy week.”

I bust out laughing thinking about how busy it might be. Siebold frowns sharply at me. Alder, bless his straight soul, has no idea what’s going on.

***​

You know what, I rebound hard on Siebold, but I don’t care. This week is a lotta hard work as I work with him and Alder to draft up what kinds of policies I want to introduce to Unova. It’s hard work as I train up my team and prepare for how we’re gonna battle the Elite Four at the end of these weeks.

The days are long and hard, and so are the nights. Siebold is a great top. The sex is good. Waking up alone in the mornings is not. The bed is cold. I feel hollow and empty.

You’re a handsome, charismatic man, Hugh, and a good fuck. But you can’t hide the truth.

You’re a murderer, plain and simple.


I don’t know where Colress is, but I hope he sleeps good knowing he was right about me.

***​

It’s three days before my scheduled battles with the Elite Four and Champion when I get the letter.

It’s a cool autumn day. My mood’s leveled, because we’ve had sunny weather all week. It’s been real nice to have the sunshine back. I spend my morning sparring with Drayden, tightening up our forms when the travel dove lands for me.

The letter is longer than I expect it to be:



Dear Hugh and Uncle Marshal,

Can you please not make this a big deal? Because it’s not, and it has nothing to do with you. This is my decision, and I know you’re going to try to take some sort of misguided responsibility over it, so do us all a favor and just don’t. Okay? I’ve been a cold bastard ever since Kyurem got in me, and it’s not getting better. It’s getting worse.

I’m tired. And I don’t mean sleepy, I mean I’m tired. I’m tired of being alone. I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of living with the guilt of what I’ve done. I’m tired of living. Tired of pretending I want to live. I’m tired of seeing everyone I love slip away and die. My whole team’s fucking dead and it’s my fault and I’m alone and I hate it. I’m so tired of having to live like this. I’m tired of being cold. And that’s something I can’t escape. The cold. It’s just always going to be cold for me, and I can’t change it. It’s a part of me, and sooner or later it’ll consume me. That’s just how it works. I’ve seen it kill things that only lived because they had so much hate. I don’t have that hate. I’m just empty. Horrible and empty.

It’s not either of your fault even though I know you’re going to think that. It’s my decision to finally get some good sleep, and nothing you say or do can change my mind. Sometimes there’s just no hope left to fight with. Sometimes you just have to give up and know when you’re whipped.

Here’s Lotus back. I don’t want him. You need him more than me. Hugh, you’re going to make a great Champion. I love you both so much, but don’t waste time being sad about me. I’m not giving up or anything. I’m just going where I belong. I’m not afraid. I think I’m grateful for it to all be over.

—Josey



For several long seconds as I hold this letter, I can’t figure what she means. She’s all twisted up and confused and talking circles. Where is she going?

But I know. I know it like I know the sound of Zekrom’s thunder above and the chill emptiness that’s been killing my Josey like a rose bit by frost.

“Drayden!” I drop the letter, and I’m running from the gym, hollering, “Tell Uncle Marshal! Tell him to meet me at Lacunosa Hospital!” Drayden shouts something back, but I’m gone. I’m clear through the main hall of the gym and busting into the autumn sunshine.

I falter on my heels. I ain’t got a flying pokemon. Nimbus is gone. The adrenaline is pricking my veins, and my damaged heart is stuttering over beats. My disjointed thoughts land somewhere between a car and a train.

I run to the station first. I ain’t never drove one of them cars in my life, but if there ain’t a train going out right now to Lacunosa, I’ll figure it out. However, I ain’t gotta. The stars align for me, and I catch a train that’s got a pit stop back in Lacunosa at five in the evening.

The whole way there, I’ve got a burr under my saddle. This is my fault. I kept saying and kept saying I’d go to her, and I didn’t. She done got swallowed up by her dragon, and it’s all my fault. She needed me, and where was I? I was too concerned with myself. All under the guise of being the Champion this country needs, and I can’t even be the champion my Josey needed.

I bow over my knees and wrench through harsh sobs. I’m so scared I’m too late. When did she send the letter? When did she leave Nimbasa? Am I gonna be too late? Ain’t nothing in this life worth more than my Josey. Does she know that? Does she know how much I love her?

My stomach’s a sick mess and my throat squeezed like a clogged hose all the way to Lacunosa Town. My heart is skipping beats like a record, and it feels tight enough to burst. I sit by the window, watching the colorful trees go by, dreading with all my might what I might find when I finally reach her in that hell hole.

The second the train stops and my feet hit the street, I call, “Blitz!” and Blitzkrieg pops from her pokeball. I do a terrible job of mounting her while yanking painfully on her mane, but other than static snaps, she lets me. She’s too well trained. I’ve only been horseback riding a couple times in my life, and always with a saddle. I ain’t know why, but her back feels dumb slippery. I kick her into a walk at first, trying to get a feel for this while crunching for time I don’t have. What good is having a fast horse if I can’t keep my ass on her back?

Once we go a block or two, I can’t wait no more. So what if I take a spill. We accelerate to a canter, riding through Lacunosa Town. The guards at the gate shout after me about the curfew, but I ignore them. Blitzkrieg and I blaze outta town.

I ain’t know the way to the Chasm. I realize this as I’m foolishly running Blitzkrieg like some cowboy hero, but I know enough. It’s to the east and up north somewhere in the trees. So we race into the tree line, branches slapping at us as I duck and try to keep my eyes in one piece. My chest is twisting tight and painful with the mounting stress.

The sun is gonna be setting soon. I’m praying indistinctly towards the Original One. Do they know she’s suffering? Can they help her? Can they reach her?

The sky darkens as I go. The storm clouds follow me like an antenna drawing lightning in a storm. Thunder rumbles above and below, in the heavens and in Blitzkrieg’s hooves.

We’re nearing the ocean and I’m considering where to turn north when we almost run right into them. Blitzkrieg shrieks in terror when the dark shadow darts past, and I yell when I tumble clear off her flank. I hit the ground hard, and all the breath blasts from my lungs. I groan, turning over and wincing. My heart stops, starts, stops, starts, like it can’t make up its mind. I gasp for breath and look up.

The dark shadow coalesces. It peels up, and I’m looking right at Mr. Sandman. Their electric blue eye is bright, and their form ripples with agitation.

I release a shaky breath. “Where is she?”

They grunt. They slink back into their shadow and zip past, stopping several far paces ahead. I zero in on them, heart rate picking up speed. That’s it. That’s how I’m gonna find her.

After a series of failures in which I swear more than I’ve swore my entire life, I get mounted back up on Blitzkrieg, and we go chasing after Mr. Sandman. The land slopes. I know the day is ending, but it’s COLD. I feel Kyurem on the air, and I know we’re getting close.

Mr. Sandman’s shadow slithers down to a cave entrance with a weathered sign. We blow past the warning and into the cave. Blitzkrieg’s static-filled mane glows in the darkness. I see Mr. Sandman’s electric blue eyes at the far end, and we plod forward until the cold is biting. My shoulders hunch up as my body heat eeks away, sucked up by this place.

My hands are trembling. I’m wrenching sharp breaths through my nose, because it burns when I take the air through my mouth. The cold is bitter. When we step from the cave and into the Chasm proper, it feels like it’s killing me. The place is a frozen wasteland, with trees heavy with icicles and a haze like snow.

Blitzkrieg is panting, and she tosses her head. It takes me several tries to get her to walk in, and her flank is twitching with agitation. We chase after Mr. Sandman who leads us deeper and deeper. My lips chap and crack as the cold sucks the moisture from them. I’m shaking in the chill, trying to control the way my teeth are chattering. I’ve never been in a place so cold.

Mr. Sandman takes me to a big cave in the depths of the Chasm. I’m miserable from the cold by the time we get there, and no matter what I do, Blitzkrieg won’t enter this place. I slip off her back and onto numbing feet. The desolation that emanates from the cave is stifling. I take one step in. Then another.

“Josey?”

My voice echoes in the cave. I walk in, squinting into the darkness. Mr. Sandman grunts, and I see his eyes glowing stark. He slides down into a frumpy shadow—

“Josey!” I run to her, slipping on the floor that ain’t nothing but a solid sheet of ice. I skid and fall on my knees next to her, and gods. Gods, she’s ashen and curled up in the fetal position, and her fingertips are going black with frostbite. I touch her neck first, for her pulse, and she’s cold as ice. I blubber on a sob because it feels like touching a dead body.

Ever so faintly, I feel it. Her pulse. It’s weak, but it’s there, and a shriek of relief I can’t describe wrenches from me. It makes my heart wrench in agony. “Josey! Jo, you gotta wake up, Jo, please—!” I shake her and slap at her cheeks. “Jo, come on Jo, I’m here, I’m here, don’t go—”

Her eyelids flutter. Josey cracks her eyes open, and she blinks half-asleep eyes like she ain’t sure I’m even there. “H . . . H-ugh?”

“It’s me!” I gasp. The cold is burning my skin. It’s burning my lungs. My tears are crusting on my lashes, and I rub the ice away. “I’m here, Jo! I’m getting you out of here! We’re going home!”

Her eyelids are already drooping again. I grasp her under her pits, and start dragging her. She’s heavy as hell, and the entrance to the cave seems like a light at the end of a tunnel it’s so far, but I do it. My loafers slip and slide on the side, and I hit my ass more than once, but adrenaline’s flooded my veins. My heart works double time, beating twice and hard and twice as fast. I heft Josey’s taller, thicker, heavier body across the ice until I’ve dragged her to Blitzkrieg.

“Blitz, I need—sit, sit—”

Blitz whinnies in alarm and her ears plaster back, but she plops on the ground for me. I lug Josey’s freezing body over the back of Blitzkrieg. Once I get Blitz stood back up, I mount up behind Josey, trying to keep myself and her astride.

We go racing out of the Chasm. It’s begun to rain now, and I’m praying like crazy to the Original One in the hopes maybe they can do something, maybe they can help. Josey fixed them. She healed them, and now they’re all together and unbroken, but now she’s the one suffering for it, and it ain’t fair!

The thunder roars overhead. Blitzkrieg is sparking with electricity, charged by the storm. I can taste Zekrom’s presence in my rage and the sweat on my brow. My heart is struggling, skipping beats and tied up tight like a balloon fit to burst. Josey is cold and heavy, and she drags the cold with her. My summer storm meets her winter winds, and the rain thickens to a heavy sleet. I gasp and tremble under the deluge of it, the cold wet sapping my warmth and strength faster than I can warm my Josey.

The sun’s set. It’s dark, and Blitzkrieg’s white stripes are glowing hot yellow. I’m clutching onto her for dear life, trying to swallow my scared sobs when I hear it: a distant roar. Blitz races down the road, and when we break free of the trees, I crane my head to the sky. The lightning whips and the thunder cracks. Behind it all, hidden as a silhouette behind the clouds, I see the expanse of the Original One’s wingspan; I see the glow of their mighty turbine tail; I hear their roar peal through the skies like a lament.

Lacunosa Town draws to my sight. The doors are closed to us. Blitzkrieg puts on the breaks, nearly sending both me and Josey tumbling from her back. I look up to the shut gates, fury flooding my veins and heart sinking under the pressure in my chest.

“Let us in!” I bellow up at them.

“The doors have to remain shut!” someone shouts back. I can barely hear them over the sound of the storm. “We can’t risk the monster in the Chasm!”

“We are not monsters!” I holler back. I feel the sting of static in my fingers. My hair crackles like a cloud full of lightning. The charge fills me and warms me. I want to break this door down, no matter the cost. “You’ll open this gate, or I’ll blast it down! My friend is dying!”

They confer with one another about what to do. I gnash my teeth. The yellow-bellied bastards! I reel Blitzkrieg about, and the charge is filling me until I think I might explode. I suck in a static-filled breath, contemplating how big a blast I could summon on purpose.

An earth-shattering roar splinters the night. I look up, and there, hovering above Lacunosa Town, I see the Original One. They bellow in rage, and in the shadow of Zekrom, I watch their turbine tail whir and light up, sparks of electricity snapping in the air as they gain power. Their wing beats are huge and send the sleet flying in all directions.

Thunder cracks the sky like an explosion. White light tattoos my eyes, and my ears pop under the force of the noise. The weight of shock is nearly concussive, and Blitzkrieg shrieks in terror. She rears up, sending Josey and I tumbling to the ground. I’m sucking wind, feeling dizzy and weak. Ozone stings the air. I look up.

The gates to Lacunosa Town are blasted wide open. The stone is scorched black by the lightning. The Original One’s blown a cleft into the superstitious town that’ll never recover. The dragon bellows and races forward, high above the city, guiding us.

Even taking a spill, Josey’s too far gone to wake up. I coax Blitzkrieg back over, mount us up again, and we run into the city. Lightning flashes above in time with my stuttering heart’s agitation. The sleet is pouring, cold and unrelenting. Blitzkrieg’s hooves reverberate with thunder, echoing the storm, heralding the Chosen of Zekrom’s arrival. She’s panting and frothing at the mouth as I push her harder than I’ve ever pushed her before.

I’m exhausted by the time we make it to the nearest hospital. Under its awning, Uncle Marshal waits at the doors. He rushes into the sleet to meet us, and he’s bellowing, “Hugh! What happened? Is she—?”

“Take her!” I shout as he reaches up to do just that. He’s so strong and consumed with concern that he hefts her like she’s no more than a little girl. He rushes inside, and I slip off of Blitzkrieg. Her flanks are heaving for air, and she collapses to the ground.

I kneel, weak and hazy and struggling to breathe. “It’s okay, good girl. Good girl. Thank you so much,” and I lean down and kiss her cheek. Her eyes roll up to look at me. I rub her neck and return her. I grit my teeth, stand, and stagger into the hospital.

I feel like I’m looking through a tunnel. My chest is so tight and hurts so bad. At the end of the tunnel, I see Uncle Marshal laying Josey out on a gurney for the staff, and they whisk her away. I stumble forward on cold, numb feet.

She’s safe. She’s gonna be okay. Tears streak down my cheeks, and they feel like hot lava against my frozen skin. I’m shaking in the cold air conditioning of the hospital. I feel like I’m collapsing. My heart is fritzing, and . . . And I’m . . . I’m . . .

Uncle Marshal’s turned to me now. I’m staring at him like an idiot as he says, “Hugh, what happened? Where was she? What—Hugh? Hugh, are you okay?”

My numb lips work.

“I think I’m having a heart attack.”

And then I crumple.

Do yourself a favor and listen to this song full blast, because it's a religious experience for me when I'm in the car screaming the lyrics and trying not to cry because of GitM feels:

They have lightning-like movements. When Zebstrika run at full speed, the sound of thunder reverberates.
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,095
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
HEY. NO. BAD. STOP GIVING HUGH FUCKING HEART ATTACKS. LET HUGH AND JOSEY HUG AND LOVE EACH OTHER OH MY GOD
 

Alan900900900

Lurker extraordinaire
Globetrotter
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
183
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
334
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Ice
Pokédex Entry
This Pokemon is a master of having too many projects at the same time. Also, Pikablu.
I swear to GOD if somebody dies I'm gonna die inside too >:(
 

Whozawhatcha

i have too many projects
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
490
Nature
Lonely
Pokémon Type
Fire, Flying
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #234
@SayleeK IT GETS BETTER I SWEAR

@Alan900900900 NO ONE'S DYING. i'd never take my josey from hugh, or my hugh from my josey

“Just let me cry a little bit longer
I ain't gon' smile if I don't want to
Hey man, we all can't be like you
I wish we were all rose-colored too
My rose-colored boy”

Rose-Colored Boy __ Paramore



I feel my papa rubbing my hand. The way he used to, when he comforted me after bad dreams or woke me up for school. I half expect my mother’s sweet, chipper voice telling me, Rise and shine! The morning’s fine!

I’m heavy. And hot. And tired. I blink around the hazy disorientation. God I feel like shit, but that’s not news. It’s so fucking HOT, what the fuck, it feels like the depths of a sweltering southern summer.

I peel open my crusty eyes to fluorescents. Shit. This is a hospital. What . . . ?

Then, it hits me. It hits me like a bag of bricks. Everything I felt. All the bullshit. Where my fucking life is. And it doesn’t feel deliberate or anything, it feels strange. I understand those stories about sirens, and how something can call you, and maybe you don’t want to go, or maybe you do, but it doesn’t matter. It calls, and you go to it. And the cold was soothing. It numbed me to my hurts, it swaddled me up like a warm blanket and held me close, it promised everything would end, and—

Uncle Marshal’s bowed over the edge of the bed, forehead pillowed on his arms. He’s rubbing my palm restlessly with his thumb. There are two outrageously huge bouquets of roses on the table. A figure is blocking the sunshine from the window. Tall, lean, and rubbing that crick in his neck I always pop loose for him. Ingo’s crisp white button up is rumpled, like he slept in it. He’s staring out the window and grinding his jaw, the idiot. It’s only going to make all his tension worse.

The second I shift positions, Uncle Marshal’s head snaps up. I suck up around my tight throat, feeling stupid, feeling taken advantage of, and weak. “Uncle Marshal,” I rasp. “I’m too hot—”

He lunges over the bed for me. He wraps his arms around me, lifting me clear off the bed and crushing me close. My hands fall at my sides, and I feel sapped of energy. This is my fault. I’m dragging people down again. I’m a waste of space. I don’t contribute anything to—

I don’t know what the noise is for the first several moments. But it hits me that it’s crying. And Uncle Marshal’s shoulders are shaking, he’s heaving for breath, and the pressure in my throat builds like a dam about to burst. I’ve never heard my Uncle Marshal cry. He’s always been the strong one, whether he just is strong or some weird macho male front he has to keep. And now the guilt is pressing in, and I’m lurching against the tears, feeling stupid and worthless when I whimper, “U-Uncle Marshal—”

“Jose, Jose, listen,” he says, and the words wrench out between his heaving breaths. He pulls back to look me in the eyes, and he rubs his tears on his shoulders. “You know I love you, right?” I’m choked off by the sobs sticking in my throat. I nod, because how could I not? “I do, I love you Jose. I love you so much—”

“Uncle Marshal, stop—”

“And I know I’m not Azu, I know I’m not your papa, but you’re still my girl, understand?” He crushes me close again, and I don’t know what’s wrong with me. It feels like he’s killing me. I’m a blubbering mess who’s crying so hard I can’t even see nothing, and my hands are grabbing at Uncle Marshal like a lifeline. He wraps me up tight, and it feels so good. It feels like papa’s hugs. I miss that feeling.

“You’re my girl, Josey,” he says between the strange, stilted sobs he can’t contain. “Okay? I love you, and I want to help. I don’t ever want this happening again. I don’t ever want you to feel like this.”

My blubbering escalates out of my control. I’m bawling ugly tears, and I feel like I can’t breathe around how tight my throat’s squeezed, but I still blurt, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it—”

“I know Jose, I know, it’s okay—”

“It just happened, I don’t know, I didn’t mean to—”

“I know, I know, baby girl, it’s okay—”

“It’s NOT okay, nothing’s okay anymore—”

I don’t know how long we sit there, rocking and crying on the bed. But eventually, Uncle Marshal’s not crying anymore and he’s holding me. I snot up his shirt until I finally sink heavily against him. I feel like all the energy in the world’s been sucked outta me. When I look back up, Ingo’s gone, and Uncle Marshal and I are so sweaty we’re sticking to one another. I really don’t want to let go, but I do wanna let go.

“Can you turn off that fucking heater, it’s so goddamn hot.”

Uncle Marshal goes and turns off the space heater roasting me alive. He scrubs his face while his back is turned. I do the same on the sheets of the bed. Then he comes back to meet me and sits on the edge of the bed. He takes my hand and crushes it in his grip, and I’m trying to squeeze just as hard back, but I feel so weak.

We sit in silence for a long moment. When Uncle Marshal finally breaks it, he has to brace himself with a harsh breath. “Josey. How are you doing? Really.”

And we’re here in a hospital because I almost went subzero on us, and the tears threaten again, but I swallow them down. “Shit,” I rasp. “Real shitty.” It doesn’t feel good to admit it. It feels like an admission of weakness. It feels like I’m really a withered husk.

Uncle Marshal grunts. “I shouldn’t have left Lotus with you.”

My heart bleeds out. “No, Uncle Marshal—”

“I should have stayed. I shouldn’t have left you.”

“No, it’s fine. You’re needed here. Hugh needs you, you’re fucking Elite Four, the country needs you—”

His hand squeezes so tight I feel a painful pop in my hand. “YOU needed me,” he snaps, and I flinch. His tone is vicious. But his hand stops hurting mine, and now he’s rubbing his thumb in my palm again. The motion is soothing. “You needed me,” he mutters. “You come first, Josey. Always. Every time. Not this country, you. You’re my girl. Don’t you forget it.”

It’s hard to talk about the big fat lump in my throat. “Okay.”

Uncle Marshal nods, and he’s staring at the floor and kneading my hand. I flip off the covers because I’m hot as hell. After a moment, he clears his throat again. “I better let your boyfriend in to see you,” he says gruffly. He shoots me the weakest fucking grin, but I’m glad he does. “You know he’s a good kid, right? I really don’t think you can do better.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

The smile falters away immediately. A shadow of concern leaps over his brow. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

I sigh. “It’s fine, Uncle Marshal. Can I see Ingo?”

He nods. Uncle Marshal leans over, and he’s uncharacteristically sweet when he kisses my forehead before he leaves. I swallow hard. Ingo’s going to think it’s his fault when it’s not. I don’t know how to convince him it’s all me, that I’ve been this way long before he met me, and that I’ll always be this way.

Ingo wedges into the room fast and shuts the door with an impossibly soft click. He lingers on his heels, staring at me, dark dark patches under his eyes. He looks like shit.

“You need sleep,” I finally say.

I get him to move. His hand comes up and rakes through his hair. He sucks in a breath like a wheeze. He crosses the room fast and sits next to me. He holds my hand in both of his with steady pressure. I smell him. The faint traces of his cologne and the contradictory linger of the dragons’ blood in him. Hot like fire. Soothing like rain. I shift toward him, pulled like a magnet.

“I’m sorry—”

“Don’t be.”

“I’ll damn well be sorry about it, Josey.” My teeth click shut, and he glowers at me. “This is my fault.”

And around the rosie we go. “No it’s not.”

“I left you when you needed me most. If I’d stayed—”

“I’d have run you off eventually,” I snarl. “I know what I am, Ingo, and I’m a sinkhole—”

“I know what you are too,” he snaps. For all his anger, and how much he gestures when he talks, his hands stay planted firmly on mine. “I know what I signed up for! So why am I running at first sign of trouble? I should have stayed.”

“Ingo,” and I feel hot, burned in this overheated room and the flush of my anger. “You needed a break, plain and simple. I’m a full time bag of bricks on your ankles, and you were drowning. I’m glad you left.”

“I’m not!” He shakes his head. “I thought—I thought I wanted a break, but when I left, it was still all wrong. And I KNOW Kyurem’s twisted you up inside, I KNOW it, so why the fuck did I leave when I knew you needed me? What kind of a boyfriend am I? What kind of a person am I to do that to you.”

“The self preserving kind.”

“No, it’s selfish!”

“Look! If you don’t take care of yourself then how the fuck do you expect to take care of me?” I try to wrench my hand away from him, but he doesn’t let me. He stubbornly holds on to me, and I want him to throw me away. “You’re rich. You’re—”

Ingo scowls and shakes his head. “Don’t you fucking start this shit again—”

“—handsome and talented and heir to a fucking empire. You don’t need me. I’ve been a drain on you ever since—”

“Stop it, Josey—”

“We needed each other to crutch through something, but now it’s just not sustainable—”

“Josey, stop—”

“You should just go. You don’t need me—”

“I WANT you, Josey, I WANT you—”

The words that used to feel so good feel so hollow. My voice suddenly cracks with the tears again.

“Then why did you LEAVE!”

“God damn it Josey!”

Ingo breaks on a harsh cry. He hunches over our bound hands, pressing my knuckles into his eyes as he wrenches through soft, faltering sobs. My throat squeezes up again. I don’t want to cry again. I’m tired of crying. But I’m tired of hurting everyone I touch.

He’s trying so hard not to cry. He holds my hand over his eyes, and he whispers, “I’m sorry I left you, Josey. I’m sorry . . . I’m sorry . . . I’m so sorry . . .”

I want to hold him. I want to massage the tension out of his shoulders, brush away his tears, and kiss him. But all I have the strength to do right now is say, “I know,” and it doesn’t feel like enough.

I’m not the only one with struggles here. I know Ingo has his own demons. I know he deals with his own stress, his own issues, and I haven’t been helping him. He’s been pouring himself into me trying to help care for me, but I’ve been so twisted up in my goddamn self that I didn’t take the time to care for him. To tell him thank you and let him know I appreciate him.

I’ve been a cesspool. I’m drowning him in my shit. I don’t want to do that to him anymore, but I can’t convince him to leave me.

It’s hard, but I find some strength for him. I dig deep, and I sit up. “Turn around.” He’s shocked and rubs at his eyes. He turns, so his legs hang off the bed properly, and it takes some finagling for me to extract my hand from his. I reach up to massage his shoulders, and he stiffens.

“Josey, no—”

“Just shut up and let me do this.”

His back is knotted up bad. He probably slept wrong in the hospital chair on top of all the fucking stress he carries. He feels like a bunch of pebbles at the bottom of a lake. I rub at the knots and knead into the points of tension. Ingo’s twisted up in pain about it too, gasping and hissing under his breath as I work him loose. My hands stroke over his shoulders and neck, and I dig at the base of his skull, where he carries his headaches.

He groans low. Something in him goes slack, and the tension starts releasing. “Josey . . .”

I bite my lip against crying. I hear it. The love in his voice. I hate that. I hate hearing that so much. He shouldn’t love me like that. And I massage him in silence, dying inside, wanting so desperately to keep him as mine.

When his head’s hanging and he stops tensing up against my hands, I reach up and cradle his neck. I crack his head left and right, and Ingo groans loudly in relief. Faintly, I hope Uncle Marshal doesn’t think I’m fucking him right here in the goddamn hospital.

Then, my arms wrap around him. I lean on him and nestle my face on the back of his neck. His arms wrap around mine. We sit in silence, holding each other.

“I’m sorry I worried you.”

Ingo sucks in a hard breath. “You scared the shit out of me, Josey.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I know. I am too.”

He twists around in my arms until he can kiss me. And I whimper, because I’m weak, and he’s sweet, and I know I’m too selfish to let him go. Hot tears streak down my cheeks. Ingo turns around completely so we can wrap around one another. I feel dizzy and hot and tired. I don’t ever want him to leave again.

Ingo’s hands rub absently at my back. “I left your coffee in the hall.”

Something in me perks up, like Pavlov’s dog. “You got me coffee?”

“Yes,” he says. He clears his throat. “It’s . . . Probably cold now.”

“Surely there’s a microwave in this building.”

He laughs, softly, in disbelief. It’s good to hear his laugh, however faint. “I can get you fresh coffee.”

My arms tighten on him. “See, this is why you’re my boyfriend.”

I coax another quiet laugh out of him. He pulls back to look at me, and god, he really looks wrecked. He looks like I’ve pulled the bottom log out of a jenga tower. He looks so relieved. He looks ruined with love.

“And you’re my girl because you’ve got immaculate taste,” he says. He stands. He keeps holding my hands. “I . . . I know Hugh is probably dying to see you. I’m only going to step out for a little bit.”

I nod. “Yeah, I understand. I wanna see Hugh.”

Ingo’s throat works. He leans down and kisses me again, soft, slow, and lingering. “I’m not leaving again,” he murmurs. “I promise.”

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”

“I’m not.” He kisses me again. I hate that kissing blackmail is working on me. “I’m not going anywhere, Josey.”

“Okay.”

Ingo idles with me for a long moment before he can bring himself to pull away. He slips out with one last glance before Hugh bursts into the room, blurting, “Josey?” I wave. I watch a rush of emotion suffuse his throat, and—there it is. He’s crying already. My Hugh’s always been a crier.

When he comes round to me, he’s got some sort of rolling machine tethered to him. I hold him while he cries, and he’s blubbering something about how he wasn’t going to cry, so I have to shush him. I’ve felt staggered this whole time, but Hugh carries a buzz about him. He vibrates with life and energy, and it’s like being in the eye of a storm. It’s a strange, stabilizing feeling.

And I think that’s why I don’t cry a third time. Because now that I’m starting to feel safe, my shoulders are slumping. My eyes are getting heavy. I’m craving that coffee Ingo’s brought me, because I’m drained of energy. How can I be so goddamn tired all the time? I have to have the energy to even fucking live.

When Hugh’s fit ends, we sit hugging on the bed. I’m sinking into him, and he shouldn’t have to deal with the weight of me dragging him down when his life’s going so goddamn right. “Sorry,” I say, because I don’t know what else to say. I fucked up. I’m making things worse for everyone, having to deal with me.

But Hugh says, “No, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t’ve left you, not when we were like this. I shouldn’t’ve let you leave.” He rubs my back, and he rasps, “You okay? Really, Josey? Anything I can do to help?”

I shrug. “It’s whatever.”

“No it ain’t.” I take the gentle correction, because of course Hugh’s sweet like that. Of course HE wouldn’t change. “Come on, Jo, talk to me.”

It takes me a long, long moment to try to do that. Because there’s so much that’s wrong. It’s everything. It’s just fucking existing. I can’t deal with the fallout of everything. And finally, I whisper, “Life really sucks, you know? I know we’ve done good, Hugh, but . . . I feel like I poured my heart and soul and energy into saving this stupid fucking country, and what do I have to show for it? A heartless, soulless me.”

“Don’t say that Josey.” Hugh squeezes me tight, like he’s trying to break my ribs. “You got a big heart, and you been through a lot. You’re just hurt and need some rest and love, that’s all.”

Hot tears sting my eyes. I squeeze them shut to not cry. “Can you fucking stop that? Maybe I just want to be fucking sad about it, you ever think that? Maybe you can take off your little rose glasses for once and see it’s all fucking sucky.”

“Well, I’ve got my sweet rosey Josey in this world, so it can’t all be sucky.”

I lightly punch his side, and he makes a noise somewhere between a grunt and a laugh. “Stop that.”

“Only because you asked so nicely.” He rocks us on the bed, back and forth. Between the heater and the triple sucker punches from the men in my life, I’m warmer than I’ve been for a long time.

“I’ve missed you.”

“I missed you too.”

I frown at the contraption that’s tethered to him. “What is this?”

He squirms. “Um . . . I guess I had a heart attack?”

“Hugh!”

When I pull back to look at him, his face is hot, and he waves his hands. “I’m okay! Really, it just . . . Well, you know. This is making my heart beat steady.” He pats the top of the box. “It’s um . . . It’s pacing my heart. It’s been beating too fast without it.”

The flash of lightning, of Zekrom, of Hugh, arm outstretched—I shake off a shiver and snap, “That’s so fucked up. What the fuck.”

So then, he tells me about what happened. About how he came to get me. And his heart attack. And I’m cagey, there’s not much to tell about my side of things except for just barely existing, so I ask him to talk, because I miss hearing Hugh’s soft, sweet drawl.

So he updates me on his team. He talks about everything he’s doing to become Champion. He talks about Colress. He cries about Colress. And I tell him, “It’s open season on his ass, if I see him, I’m punching him right in the goddamn face.” And Hugh laughs through his tears, so maybe I’ve finally done something right in my life.

And finally, when I can’t take it anymore, I call, “Ingo? Do you have my coffee?”

The door cracks open. He peeks his head in, and I make grabby hands. His mouth tilts upward, and he crosses the room to hand me a hot cup of coffee.

Uncle Marshal peeks his head in. “We clear?”

“Sure.”

He reaches back and grabs a chain of pokeballs—Hugh’s chain—and a big bouquet of—

I frown. “What the hell are those? You know white gardenias are Hugh’s favorite flower.”

Uncle Marshal puffs up with offense. He holds up the stupid big bouquet of voluminous blooms. “That’s what I got.”

“No, the Alolan white gardenia,” I remind him. A look of recognition flashes across his features. “Yeah, the little white ones?”

“I do love those,” Hugh chimes in.

“You had one job, Uncle Marshal.”

“Now wait just a second,” he says, and he shakes the flowers at us. “I do something nice and you two are going to be upset about it?”

“The wrong flowers! Uncle Marshal!” and Hugh flops dramatically on the bed next to me. “It’s true, Josey! He never loved me! He can’t even get me my favorite flowers!”

Something lurches in my stomach. I agree, “Yeah, and look over there. See how small his bouquet is compared to Ingo’s? He’s even getting showed up by my boyfriend.”

“Wh—” Uncle Marshal sputters for one second, and he whirls on Ingo. Ingo shrinks. Then, he whirls back on us, snapping, “I’ll get your damn flowers, and I won’t be showed up by—by a BOYFRIEND—”

It’s so easy to make him mad. And Hugh’s laughing, no longer doing a good display of drama as he whines, “It’s too late, Uncle! I have to deal with big FAT Unovan gardenia!”

That thing lurches in my stomach again and right up through my mouth. It’s all twisted up, but Hugh’s a mess, and Uncle Marshal’s mad about being teased for flowers, and Ingo looks like he could fall through the floor out of fear of him. The noise lurches out, and it’s a laugh. I don’t think I’ve laughed in months. And at first, it’s faltering, but then, I can’t control it. It just floods out of me until I’m in tears, and then until I’m genuinely crying on the bed.

It feels bad. It feels good. And Hugh’s got his arms around me again, so maybe it can’t be bad. “I’m sorry,” I’m blabbing as I try to stopper up my weird, seesawing emotions. I take the tissue Ingo offers me. “I don’t know what’s going on.”

It’s Ingo who gives me a soft, sad smile when he says, “I think someone else has been stressed too.” I flip him the bird, and his smile stretches just a little wider.

They let me take several long moments to collect myself. As I do, guilt chews on my stomach. I fiddle with my tissue. “Uncle Marshal?”

“Yeah?” He’s still side-eying the flowers he bought.

“I um . . .” My house is empty other than Mr. Sandman. I think I feel him in my shadow right now. And my lip quivers before I take a deep breath and admit, “I . . . think I really want Lotus.”

“He’s yours.”

“He’s crabby. Like you.”

“That’s why he gets along with you.” I snort under my breath. Uncle Marshal pulls one of the chairs over to me and sits down on the edge of it. “Now, we need to have a serious conversation.”

I sit up. Serious? More serious than the conversations we’ve been having? “What?”

Uncle Marshal presses his lips. He looks like he’s turning over something big in his head and figuring how to best break it to me when he says:

“I think you should move to Opelucid City.”

Not satisfied with how this chapter ended, but alas, couldn't figure out how to fix it without dragging it on. Also, I'm DYING to finish GitM so I can post my sunlocke. Ngl I thought she and Hugh would talk more, but I guess they didn't? I guess they just know, you know? They know. Josey and Ingo's conversation was by far the hardest, but goddamn was it a good one.

Story ending projected 1 chapter and 1 epilogue away y'all, I can't believe I'm SO CLOSE to finishing.
 
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AxisVactaire

Nuzlockologist
Pokédex No.
1949
Caught
May 5, 2020
Messages
78
Nature
Quiet
Pokémon Type
Electric, Psychic
YAAASSSS, FINALLY JOSEY GETS THE LONG OVERDUE AFFECTION SHE NEEDED SO BADLY

Even better yet, it got her laughing~ Absolute gold moment.

Also, I feel for poor Hugh in this. oAo

(I have heart problems myself, so I can totally relate to him now)

P.S. Refresh my peabrained memory, I have forgotten what Pokemon Lotus is~ o3o

P.S.S. I already love the cliccy cliccy robo-buggy~ Jitterbug's a perfect name for a Genesect in need of TLC.
 

Missy

i left my heart in alola
Writer
Pokédex No.
94
Caught
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
119
Nature
Lax
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Tough
Pokédex Entry
nanu for hire (rates may vary, payment upfront)
It says a lot about a series when you can have a chapter that consists entirely of sappy hospital bed crying and have it feel both necessary and satisfying. Everyone really needed this. Well, they didn't need to end up in the hospital, but they needed to come together and heal.

And as odd as this sounds, it feels like Josey really needed to go to the Chasm again. It was part of the healing process, yknow? She couldn't move on until all of the hurt left her, and it feels now like that's finally happened. Now things can get better.
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,095
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
>Opens chapter
>Sees “Rose-Coloured Boy” by Paramore
>Oh god that song is LITERALLY about Hugh and Josey too
>Oh god that whole album is about Josey though
>”I don’t need no help, I can sabotage me by myself”
>”Oh please, just don’t ask me how I’ve been, don’t make me play pretend”
>”Hard times, gonna make you wonder why you even try, hard times, gonna take you down and laugh when you cry, these times, and I still don’t know why I even survive”
>PARAMORE’S AFTER LAUGHTER IS ENTIRELY ABOUT JOSEY SEND TWEET

Welp Marshal and Josey are sobbing and now so am I

“If you don’t take care of yourself then how the fuck do you expect to take care of me?” God this is the whole thing though about wanting to be there for people you love with serious mental or physical health issues but also no one person can be an entire support system and it WILL crush you, especially if you’ve got issues of your own you need support with. JOSEY YOU NEED TO LET MORE PEOPLE WHO LOVE YOU BE IN YOUR LIFE SO YOU HAVE A GODDAMN SUPPORT SYSTEM

That backrub is so tender and intimate I love it

“I feel like I poured my heart and soul and energy into saving this stupid fucking country, and what do I have to show for it? A heartless, soulless me.” HEY. OW. FUCK. That line stabbed me directly in MY heart

Oh yeah, Colress still needs an asskicking, I hope Josey gets to give it because that girl is buff and can DEFINITELY snap that nerdy twink in half

Josey laughed! Josey LAUGHED! And I cried again because I am so full of love for a character who Suffered finding joy again and I love Josey and her boys with my whole heart

You’re so close! You’re almost there! You’ve almost DONE it! I’m so hella proud at you for finishing this majestic piece of work that it’s given me a major inspiration surge to get back to work on Eternal Enmity :D

Also for real I put on After Laughter to listen to while reading this chapter because for real... it's about Josey
 

localhoney

grook
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
2002
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
219
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.
God. I nearly cried when Marshal was bearhugging her, so you know by the time Hugh was crying, I was crying too.

Felt so good to have all of Josey's family together and loving her. Very sad and excited for this run to come its conclusion, but I know you're whipping up something great for your Sunlocke.
 

Thirteenth

Number XIV
Writer
Pokédex No.
14
Caught
May 20, 2019
Messages
1,724
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.
my heart... god they needed those moments in the hospital. and don't get me started on the previous chapter, I ;;;;;;;;
 

Whozawhatcha

i have too many projects
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
490
Nature
Lonely
Pokémon Type
Fire, Flying
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #240
@AxisVactaire this was just a big hurt/comfort chapter and it was very much needed. also, Lotus is Uncle Marshal's Sawk that tanked Reshiram's Blue Flare! Also, poor Jitterbug is mostly a footnote, but rest assured he's an excellent pet pokemon for Hugh

@Missy i think they're all very concerned with other things and pushing themselves to a breaking point. also, josey is the master of pushing things down until she nearly dies about it. ironically? i don't think so. i don't josey ever needs to return to the chasm again. release happens a little better....this chapter. but you are correct, things are going to get better.

@SayleeK KHDAKJFKSHJK I'M SO GLAD YOU ENJOYED THE PARAMORE LYRICS. Ingo and Josey's argument was by far the hardest part of the chapter to write, but goddamn was it realistic and GOOD. those two always surprise me with their chemistry. and YESSSS, bitch needed a goddamn laugh, and it always ends up being laughter over something incredibly stupid. I'm SO excited to finish (ergo, me updating again in like, two days) and i think it turns out well!

@localhoney nothing is more traumatizing than the big strong guys of your family crying when they never every cry in front of you. had to bring everyone in to support my josey and let her know that she's loved and cared for

@Thirteenth hhhhh i'm so glad you're surviving these last chapters. hopefully this one today will be easier on your poor abused heart i pull no punches with the epilogue tho

“Out of the darkness and into the sun
I won't forget all the ones that I love
I gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway”

Breakaway __ Kelly Clarkson



My life shifts in a weird way. Not bad I don’t think, just . . . Weird.

I move in with Uncle Marshal. He’s got this dinky flat on the north end of Opelucid City because no one actually LIVES up at the Elite Four, it’s just a half hour train commute. The house? Ugh, it’s a man house. Full of boxing stuff, drab furniture, darker colors. It’s depressing as hell. He needs an interior decorator.

(I can’t say much. My apartment was fucking empty. This at least feels like it’s lived in. Also, couches. I miss couches. I’m great at taking naps on his couch.)

A few things hurt: Uncle Marshal has a trophy case from his many years of boxing. There’s also an entire shelf dedicated to my shitty trophies I got a child, mostly participation trophies, but there’s a silver one back when I played basketball. The room he leaves for me? I find my baby stuff tucked up in the closet, along with a few things of mom’s, and a few things of dad’s. Stupid, vapid shit that’ll never be used again, things I left in that warehouse back in Aspertia City, but Uncle Marshal clearly took his share.

He took all the pictures and tapes I left. I’m glad. I cry like a bitch over them, because I thought I’d never see these things again. He’s got a few urns in the back room, for his pokemon. Mine are there too. I also cry like a bitch over them. I add Mama’s ashes to the display. I add Papa’s Lumiere to the pile too.

The heirloom table, with the border pattern of maple leaves? I eat breakfast at that table in the morning like I used to as a child. I still remember the pattern of nicks around the edges and the coffee ring my father left on it that couldn’t be buffed out.

Uncle Marshal has some junk, but you know, I’m glad at least one of us was hanging onto the past. I’m glad at least one of us kept the sentimental shit. I’m glad Uncle Marshal was holding on to things when I was trying to bury it all.

The real reason for the move, of course, is no one wanted me living alone. They’re all overbearing worry warts that need to back off. I can fucking take care of myself. (I might have moved in with Uncle Marshal because I’m lonely, but he doesn’t need to know he’s right.)

It’s good to see Hugh more. That’s the best part of the move. Any free second he has, he’s spending it with me. Siebold Leblanc has to leave because Hugh puts off his Elite Four challenge due to health concerns. (Leblanc? Tall leggy blonde hair blue eyes? Hugh hauled ashes with that one, I’m certain of it. I’D haul ashes with him.)

Hugh spends a little more time resting given his heart’s gumming the works. It’s strong, according to the doctors, just beating wrong. Something about electricity helping his heart beat steady, and Zekrom’s lingering charge is different, I don’t know. He’s off the machine now, but only temporarily. The guys working on Hugh’s heart machine are trying to make it smaller so he can have it on him at all times.

Therapy? That’s stupid. But if I didn’t go, Uncle Marshal probably would have killed me himself. I attend with Hugh and let him do the talking, because I’m not talking to some hoity toity stranger doctor about my shit. Fuck that.

The boxing? The boxing, actually, I can get into.

“Calm down and use some smaller punches, Josey. Not every punch has to be a knockout punch.”

Two weeks into Opelucid City living, and I’m still jobless. But it’s two weeks into living here and I’m intimately familiar with the punching bag. I’m also intimately familiar with Uncle Marshal kicking my ass. I duck behind my forearms when Uncle Marshal swings several punches that look simple and weak, but they still sting like a mother fucker, even with the boxing pads on his hands.

I’m sweating buckets in his hot smelly gym. Lotus is watching us from the sidelines. Poor sap’s got gnarly burn scars from tanking Reshiram’s Blue Flare, but to me they’re kind of cool. He could endure her heat. I couldn’t. The sawk is a restless pokemon, like he’s not quite grasped or accepted that he’ll never be as good as he once was. He’s my sparring partner whenever Uncle Marshal’s working.

I punch back at Uncle Marshal’s hands because they’re the presented targets. He’s patient, watching my movements like a hawk, and I bitch, “Look, you said this is good to let out some pent up aggression, so maybe I’m being AGGRESSIVE.”

My next punch is hard and off-kilter, but Uncle Marshal shifts so it lands hard on the pad. I come at him from the other side with a big haymaker he dodges. His hands are so fast I barely see it coming. The mitt bashes my head, once—twice—

“Fucking hell!”

I back off, ears stinging. Uncle Marshal hikes an eyebrow at me when I retreat. “It is, but not wild. You’ll just wear yourself out and hurt your hands at this stage doing stupid shit like that. Remember your form. Channel that aggression into precision. You can beat up the bag later if you’re still itching for it.”

A grumble rises from me. Pissing annoying. I rub my lip on my forearm, reset for the bout, and go at him again. LITTLE punches. Smart punches. Boring punches.

“Better,” he says after a minute. “But you’re flat footed. Stay—”

“Off my heels, I know.” I shift off of my heels, because I always forget where my goddamn feet are. I’m not really cognizant of my body. Small perks of boxing? I’m drinking more water, which means when I’m drinking my coffee, it’s actually working better. I get that little coffee high instead of just feeling exhausted all the time.

“Better,” he says, and he swings back, scaring me into jumping away, and forcing me to switch from offense to defense. When he relents, I huff and try to settle into proper form. I feel like my arms and legs are all over the place.

“You should really enlist Hugh for this,” I finally say. My punches land hard on the practice mitt. Uncle Marshal begins to circle, and I almost trip over my own feet trying to react with him. “He could use something to punch on.”

“Hugh?” Uncle Marshal snorts. “We’re talking about the same Hugh Matisse, right?”

“Oh that’s right, you were off at the League,” I drawl sarcastically. “You haven’t been friends with him all your life and taken the brunt of his temper. He’s mean, Uncle Marshal, you’re missing out.”

I get clocked on my ribs for my sass and pull back into my defenses again. My body’s starting to ache from the abuse, but it’s kind of nice. Uncle Marshal rolls his eyes. “I’d like to see that twink throw a punch.”

I can’t help it—I laugh at that, and I have to defend Hugh’s honor. “Oh fuck off, Hugh’s a twunk and you know it.”

“Then you invite him here and I’ll kick his ass as well.”

“Maybe I will!” I lunge with my best right hook, and I aim for Uncle Marshal’s face. I’ve been a good sport about keeping to the pads he’s holding, so he doesn’t expect it. He reacts fast, pulling back, but I still feel my punch connect with a satisfying crack that sends Uncle Marshal staggering back. I push the offensive, but he runs me back easy.

I pull away from him, panting, rubbing at the sweat on my brow. I watch him tongue at the inside of his mouth. He makes a face, mouth turning down, eyebrows lifting up and eyes widening a bit. I read the, Huh, not bad, in his face before he looks at me, and a shiver runs down my back.

“You asked for it, Josey,” he says to me, and his posture shifts.

Fuck. “Yeah, I guess I kinda did,” I agree. He lays into me so bad I’m grateful to fall into bed that night and not move for the next twenty-four hours.

***​

“So all this rain is you? Seriously?”

“Yeah, I’m a real weatherman, Josey.”

“You said that too sarcastically.”

Hugh gives a wan smile and peeks up at the sky from under his umbrella. “Yeah, it’s me, Josey. I get emotional and I’m some goddamn storm antenna.”

It’s starting to rain real heavy. Hugh says he’s not depressed, but I guess he is if he’s drawing the storm. Or maybe he’s afraid, or whatever it is, it’s a negative emotion drawing a thunderstorm. It’s still early enough autumn that Icirrus City isn’t covered in a metric shit ton of snow, but I do notice the rain has sleet mixed in it. Is that me? Or is that just Icirrus City’s cold weather?

Hugh and I hike in coats and boots northward even though the cold doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is the heavy hunk of Light Stone that’s burning a hole in my pocket. It feels like a goddamn blazing piece of coal.

“Have you ever been to Dragonspiral Tower?” Hugh asks.

I shake my head. “No. You?”

“No.” His eyes are distant. “After I beat Clay, I came back to Nimbasa to visit you. After um . . . After Brycen was murdered, there really wasn’t much of a draw for me to go that far north. I didn’t have the tower on my mind then.”

I nod in agreement, and we fall silent. We hike up to Dragonspiral Tower, and Reshiram’s cage boils in my pocket. I know why we’re coming here. This is the oldest building in Unova. I’m excited about that, I’m not going to lie. Dreams like this seemed far off to my mind in the wake of everything that’s happened. But other than the secret history behind this tower, we’re here because this is where myths say that the legendary dragons were created and where they slumber. We’re putting artifacts back where they belong.

“Hey, Josey?”

“Yeah?”

Hugh chews on a thought for a long moment. The rain is heavy, and its din is soothing.

“You know anything about pokemon habitats and distribution?”

I look at him like he’s crazy. “Uh, no? Why.”

He shifts and looks away. He twirls his umbrella restlessly. “Oh. Well, I guess I just thought . . . Um. Well, golett are pretty rare pokemon, you know?” I stare at him. Hugh shrugs. “There’s only one place in Unova that you can get them.”

The trees break before us. Dragonspiral Tower opens up to us, surrounded by a moat. It’s a dark, jagged cut in the black sky.

“This is the only place to catch golett,” Hugh says softly. “Your pop had to visit here at some point.”

My hand clenches on the handle of my umbrella. The bottom of my feet burn, like I’ve put my heels down in my father’s footprints. Here? I crane my head back, looking up towards the looming tower. It’s inaccurately named, because it’s massive; it’s more like a small portion of a castle, full of turrets and windows and balconies.

It’s a long way to come for a pokemon for a teenage girl. It’s strange to think that this place was once Golem’s home.

Hugh leads me across a bridge that by all means should have fully collapsed by now, leading me over the moat. Then, we’re inside. Most of the place is crumbling. It’s old as shit and probably mostly beyond repair. Moss and vines have overgrown into the place like nature is reclaiming what is rightfully hers. Fallen pillars are strewn over the floor, and the staircases are patchworks of fall traps.

Hugh releases Posey. The great samurott bristles at the unseen weight in the air, and he grabs his scallops. Hugh rubs his nose. “Keep the wilds away from us, Posey?” The pokemon grunts. For how imposing little Posey has become, he comes to my side for pets before we can move on.

We explore carefully into Dragonspiral Tower. It’s beautiful and sad in its age. Murals are cracked, missing chunks, and the marbled floor is dusty. I expect more wild pokemon, even with Posey’s presence, but they bow out of our way, hissing and grumbling in the shadows. I think they know he’s Zekrom’s chosen. I think they know, like Jitterbug knew, that I have a piece of Kyurem with me, and they fear it.

(I’m so curious about Jitterbug. How the documents salvaged say it was resurrected from an old pokemon fossil, but it doesn’t match up with our local fossils, tirtouga or archen. I’m fascinated with it’s posture, and blunted claws, it’s flat face like an ill-adjusted kabutops. Yet, the segments are all wrong. It’s an enigma of a pokemon, and it will likely always be concealed in mystery unless we catch that Colress.)

We wrap upwards. Flashes of lightning illuminate the tower in bursts, and thunder rattles the old stones. We climb. And climb. And we backtrack when paths have fallen several stories downward, we wind and snake upwards until we finally reach a massive, empty chamber near the top.

“I guess this is it,” Hugh murmurs. He takes my hand. I squeeze his tight. We walk inside.

The top chamber is busted open, a chunk of the entire tower missing from the far wall. The chamber itself functions more like a landing pad, with a massive, massive flat open area stretching before us. There are two pedestals in the center of the room that’s drenched with rain.

We part. Hugh goes to the left. I go to the right. There’s an inscription for Reshiram here. I hesitate, and then, I pick up the Light Stone.

All the dragons feel so different, and yet so similar. I’ve held Zekrom’s Dark Stone before. Zekrom feels like the ocean getting dark and tranquil before a storm. They feel like an April shower. They feel like the terror of drowning. They feel like a light bulb shattering, and the jump of your heart when the thunder cracks loud. They feel like my Hugh, mighty with courage, nourishing like rain.

The Light Stone burns in my hand. Reshiram is different. Reshiram is all heat and fire and rage. They feel like a scorching summer day. They feel like the drugging vindication of being right. They feel like a candle in the night. They feel like the terror of a consuming wildfire. They feel like grudges. They feel like a nostalgic summer’s day.

It’s like the echo of their howls still knock around inside the Light Stone. When I put it in its place, the noise stops. It’s silent except for the din of the storm rumbling with thunder.

I look over, and Hugh’s still clutching the Dark Stone. I shift. “Hugh?” He doesn’t look up. I walk to him. “Hugh,” I say again, and he looks up. I bite my lip, worried about what might be holding him back. “We’re putting them back.”

“Yeah,” he murmurs. He looks away. “I know.” Hugh shudders and takes a deep breath. We linger here for a long time as he fights whatever he’s gotta fight inside, and then, his shoulders slump. He breathes out a blast of air and reaches out. He leaves the Dark Stone on its pedestal.

I almost mistake it for thunder. The roar. But it comes again, louder, closer. Hugh and I look up, and the rain gusts with disturbed air. The flaps of great wings break the silence until my ears pop and I’m struggling to hold onto my umbrella. The Original One lands in front of us, and I’m honestly shocked that the tower holds under the weight of the dragon.

They’re breathtaking. It’s not like Colress’s twisted abomination. There’s no looking at it and saying, oh that piece looks like Reshiram, that piece looks like Zekrom, that part Kyurem. I can’t explain it, but they look like all of the dragons, and yet none of the dragons. They’re whole. They are their own.

Still, the eyes are golden. Not pale yellow, like Kyurem, but . . . warmer. They feel familiar to me.

“It’s you.” I look over, and Hugh’s lost his umbrella. The man’s gonna catch his death of a cold because he’s already soaked through, but he doesn’t seem to notice. Maybe that’s some weird thing about being with Zekrom, being wet all the time. He walks up to the great dragon. They fold their wings and lean down to him. They nuzzle and rumble, like a big purring cat.

Hugh smiles. He nuzzles back and scritches their cheeks. The Original One looks at me.

I sink on my heels, and a shiver wracks my spine. “What?”

I don’t know what this is at first. If it’s a last check up they want to do with their leftover Chosen. Maybe they know we’ve been going through some fucked up times and came back to feel sorry for us. Let them feel sorry. They fucked us over.

But then I see it. Something glittering in their claws. They lean forward and nuzzle me as well, and their throat rumbles. I absently pat them. They extend their arm to me and dangle dog tags in front of me.

The air sucks out of my lungs. I watch the tags twirl, and the Original One settles around us, blocking the rain to keep us warm. And gods, they’re warm, I can sense the heat and fire in them that’s like the biggest living space heater you can imagine. They keep me warm when I want to freeze.

“Josey?” Hugh’s come close. He’s chattering with cold and lingers close to the dragon. “Go on.”

My limbs unlock. I reach out and grab the tags. Azubuike Ebele. Something hard and cold that I’ve been holding on to lurches out of me in a wet sound I can’t place. The Original One whines, an apology.

“Oh fuck you,” I warble, and I flop face-first on their nose.

I cry a lot nowadays, but Hugh’s here rubbing my back, and the Original One’s breath is warm and thaws the edge of cold from me. I sniff up my snot, stand back up and rub my eyes. “Thank you,” I say, feeling kind of small and stupid.

The dragon grunts. They rise up, magnificent, and they unleash a roar to the skies. The rain abruptly stops. They spread their wings, and with a warm downdraft of air from their turbine tail, they leap to the sky and fly off. I let the umbrella drop. Hugh and I watch the Original One go again, and I imagine it’ll be the last time we ever see them.

“Hey.” Hugh comes up next to me and takes my hand. He squeezes it tight. “You okay?”

I open my hand to the dog tags. That lump is still there, but I nod.

“Yeah,” I say. “This is good.”

***​

The most surprising friend I make in Opelucid City is Drayden Ajit.

I kind of like him. He’s stern, no-nonsense, but warm and friendly. Maybe I only like him because of Reshiram. Maybe I only like him because he lets me in his personal library.

“I’m never getting my chair back, am I?”

“Probably not,” I say. I’m deep in a book I’ve wanted to get my hands on for ages, Fingerprints of the Gods: The Evidence of Unova’s Lost Kingdom. It’s a study on the Sima Kingdom and how it fell; it’s also not blind to the legends of the Wish Maker and Kyurem. It’s pretty good. If I was good at writing, I might have to write a book someday to confirm and deny some things. For all it’s bullshit, Kyurem afforded me a window to the past no one else has.

Drayden hums a laugh and crosses to the desk. I’m halfway to moving before I realize he’s only getting in the bottom drawer with—

I sit up when he brings out two tumblers and a brand new bottle of that whiskey I like. “If I turn into a day drinker and Uncle Marshal finds out, I’m blaming it on you.”

I think he smiles under that busy beard of his. I think. He looks tired. I haven’t exactly kept up with the rebuilding of Opelucid, but sometimes I hear things from Hugh. I bet Drayden’s got his work cut out for him.

He pulls up the chair on the opposite side of his desk, and I suddenly feel guilty about stealing his seat. “Less for you, more for me,” he says. I take the glass he proffers. He takes a sip, groans, and slumps down into his chair. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you for some time now, and this seems like a good moment.”

I almost instinctively dog ear the book before I remember Drayden’s rule about bookmarks. I close the book and look at him, asking, “Am I in trouble? Is this alcohol a bribe?” I drink some before he can take it away from me.

He’s smiling this time, I’m sure of it, because his eyes crinkle. “None of that,” he says. “You see, Marshal keeps giving you your space to figure yourself out, because he’s your uncle and he knows you’ve been getting a lot of attention lately.”

I frown. “That’s right.”

Drayden quirks a fluffy white brow at me. “I am not your uncle. I’m free to say what I want.”

“Fine then. Shoot.”

“Have you applied for college yet?”

Well, fuck you too Drayden. “No,” I say, and I take another drink. “So what?”

“You should,” Drayden says, and he’s blunt with his truth. He gestures a hand to his office library. “You’re smart. You obviously have a similar passion for history. You’ve even lived the history in some ways. I think you’d be remiss not to go back for your Master’s.”

“Well, you see,” I say, “the thing is, Uncle Marshal’s right and it’s none of his business, and it ain’t yours either.”

“I’m going to nose into it anyways, if to get Marshal to stop talking about it all the time.”

I shift on his leather chair. I side eye him. “He talks about it a lot?”

Drayden nonchalantly studies his glass with interest. “Something about how it was always your dream to be an archaeologist. You always made perfect marks in history class. He bought you science rock kits to play with as a child. He feels like he stepped on your college dreams making you move from Nimbasa to Opelucid when he knew you always wanted to go to Nimbasa University.” He pauses and looks at me, and my face feels hot. “You can stop me if this all sounds familiar.”

“Yeah,” I bite out, “you can stop.”

I wish there was ice in this whiskey, but there’s not. However, the glass is sweating with nervous energy, chilled by my fingers. We sit in silence for a long moment while I fume about things. Then, Drayden says, “Now, I know Nimbasa University might be too long a commute, but Opelucid City has it’s fair share of excellent universities. In fact, several have exemplary archeology programs.” He sips on his drink. “Something about how the Desert Resort has always been studied extensively, but archaeologists are shifting their focuses to a lost kingdom you seem to have a particular interest and connection with.” He tips the glass towards the very conspicuous book I’m reading. “Our new Victory Road cuts right through the rubble of the Sima Kingdom. It seems like a good outlet for your interests and your restless nature.”

“And what’s it matter to you?” I finally cut him off. I shrug. “You don’t want me in your office anymore? Is that it?”

“My office is always open to you, Josephine.”

“Well then what’s the deal? That tired of Uncle Marshal pestering you?”

Drayden lays his hand flat on his desk and gives me a sharp look that I tend to associate with my mother. “You have a passion, and the money and skills to pursue it,” he says sternly. He lifts a brow. “Now, if you’ve been through so much upheaval in your life and now have the chance to rebuild your life how you want it to be, why would you ever pass up on that chance?”

My cheeks suck shut. I look down at my lap and fiddle with my glass of whiskey. “I don’t know,” I finally mumble.

Drayden hums thoughtfully. “I see. Well. I’m going to tell you what I’M going to do.” He sits up in his chair and pins me down with a look that makes me squirm. “I’m going to write a letter of recommendation for one Josephine Ebele. I’m going to give this letter to her. Now, what she does with it is up to her, but I expect she’ll use it to make her life a better one. Understand?”

“I understand.”

“Very good,” he says. He picks up the bottle. “In that case, you can have another drink.”

***​

“Dude, he’s kicking Caitlin’s ass.”

“It’s not her fault. Posey’s packing Megahorn, Wiggles has Crunch, and god bless her trying to fight Romulus’s coverage.”

“I don’t know what’s worse honestly, Wiggles or Blitzkrieg.”

“Wiggles by far. Blitzkrieg is mostly flash and pomp right now.”

I’m cuddled on Uncle Marshal’s couch with Ingo. It’s raining outside, and distantly, there’s thunder. We’re two drinks in and Hugh’s almost two Elite Four members through. Ingo hates the commute to Opelucid to see me. Maybe I can persuade him to Opelucid too, we just all shack up in the same city.

His arm is around me, and he rubs my shoulder as we watch Hugh eviscerate Caitlin’s team. “So is it weird seeing Hugh becoming Champion?” Ingo asks me. “I mean, you grew up with him.”

“Not really,” I say, and I mean it. “He trained with Alder, you know? And Hugh’s . . . Hugh.” Honestly, it’s sort of surreal to know all his hard work’s paid off. The golden boy of Unova. And Hugh? He deserves it. I hope he takes it. My boy could be king of the world and do a good job.

I elbow Ingo. “Weird to see Emmet as part of the Elite Four?”

“Oh definitely.” We both snicker at this, and I feel warm and cozy. Ingo took off his tie and coat a long time ago. The top button of his shirt is undone, and I’d kind of like to undo the rest. How mad would Uncle Marshal be if he found out we uh, consummated on his couch? Pretty mad. I have a hard time stopping my grin at how hard he’d hit the roof. He wouldn’t hit the roof, he’d break right through it and into space.

Ingo pokes my cheek. “What’s this smile about?”

I bite his finger, and he yanks away with a laugh. “Thinking about how mad my uncle would be if I sucked your dick on his couch on the commercial break.”

Ingo shakes with silent laughter. “Well, there’s one coming up. And after Hugh fights Emmet, there’s another for you.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

The thing about when they air Elite Four matches? You watch the fight, and then there’s a 15 minute break for the challenger to heal his pokemon and recuperate before the next match. 15 minutes of commercials is more than enough time for a quickie. It’s nice having my libido back for me, but I bet it’s also nice for Ingo too.

Hugh trounces Caitlin without too much fuss. It’s cleaner than his first battle against the foreign dignitary. (Not Siebold, unfortunately for Hugh. It’s some really weird guy from Hoenn with a focus on dark types.) Once I’ve made Ingo shake and see stars, we situate on the couch again. Igno’s slumping into me, humming in contentment, nose in my dreads.

I elbow him again. “How badly do you think Hugh is gonna trounce Emmet?”

He laughs low in my ear. I feel a buzz thrill me down to my toes. “As long as he keeps Bud off the field of battle? I imagine pretty badly.

“Ouch! I’m telling Emmet about your unshakable belief in him.”

Ingo chuckles and rests his chin on my shoulder. “Blitzkrieg is going to run circles around him, Romulus has the coverage, and Cupcake has been a royal pain in everyone’s ass with her Attract.” Thunder claps above us, and Ingo shrugs his shoulder. “Besides, that’s not even counting Wiggles, and it sounds like Hugh’s really hit his stride.” He casts a look up to the ceiling.

“Hopefully his durant and crustle will help him stonewall Hugh a little bit, but goddamn. Someone needed to pack some ground types to stop Hugh.”

“You are absolutely right.”

We refill on bourbon—don’t tell Uncle Marshal that Drayden has better taste than he does—and Ingo has his arms around me while we watch Hugh similarly trounce Emmet. And sure, Emmet puts up a good fight, he forces a switch from Posey with his Toxic and Steamroll, he works a Stealth Rock that helps whittle at the stamina of Hugh’s team, but it’s not enough. It’s like Ingo said, Blitzkrieg tramples most of his bugs underfoot, and when Wiggles hits the field?

He’s a goner. I know Posey is Hugh’s starter and the flagship of his team, but Wiggles is a creature to be feared. Hugh’s latent connection with the might of Zekrom is never clearer than when he summons the storms and his pokemon throw Thunders like they’re fueled by the deep black dragon’s charge.

After Ingo treats me to my turn, I’m boneless and satiated. I’m basking in the warmth of a tipsy afterglow so much that I miss Hugh bitch slapping Uncle Marshal’s mienshao. I come back to the world when Uncle Marshal sends out his new one, a scrafty. That’s the one that’s replacing Lotus. Said pokemon is banished to his pokeball so he doesn’t get moody and jealous watching the battle. (Mr. Sandman was banished because I told him I was gonna bang the boyfriend. He got moody and slithered out into the night. Dumb Darkrai. He has to learn how to SHARE his haunting spot or go haunt someone or something else.)

“Looks like your uncle still has it,” Ingo tells me. We’re pooled so heavily and comfortably into the couch that we’re almost one person at this point. “Hasn’t lost his edge all these years. Blitzkrieg’s taking a beating.”

I watch through lidded eyes. “Kind of worried about Cupcake,” I comment. “Hugh would be ballsy as fuck to put her out against Uncle Marshal’s fighting types. They pack a goddamn punch normally, and god knows what they’d do to a normal type.”

“Hugh’s really been relying on her Attract a lot.”

“He’s just being a cheeky flirt.”

It’s the best match of the night. Uncle Marshal’s strength really pushes Hugh and his team. It’s kind of terrifying too, because Posey’s trident spews blood, and I’m fairly sure a bone HAS to have cracked when Romulus goes down. It makes me glad I was stuck at a low tier gym. But still, it’s not quite like the battles we’ve been through, where it was kill or be killed. Even at this level, Uncle Marshal and Hugh are cognizant of their pokemon, and periodically, when it’s not a knockout, they’ll yield to the other.

And even though it’s close, so close, Hugh forces Uncle Marshal to yield with Wiggles. The eelektross is exhausted, and Hugh’s so fired up I can see the crackle of electricity in his hair, but he does it. Uncle Marshal yields. Still Hugh hasn’t caused a death on the circuit. His restraint is shocking.

This time when the commercials come, Ingo asks, “So what are you going to do next?”

I look up at him. “What are you talking about?”

He gives a vague gesture and rubs the back of his neck. “I don’t know . . . I mean, I’d hate to see you go back to being an undertaker again. You can definitely get a better job, and one that pays better to boot.”

“Yeah,” I say evasively. I fiddle with the dredges of my alcohol and fish out a piece of ice to crunch on. “There’s a nice museum out here. Nothing like Nacarene, but still good. I’ve been thinking about putting in there. Barely better pay than what I’ve been getting, but definitely a better job.”

“That sounds better. Nice nine to five?”

“Actually, seven to three.”

Ingo laughs before he can stop it. “Wow. I pity you. I’d like to see you get up early enough to see the sun rise.”

I smile wryly. “Yeah. Sounds like shit.”

To be honest, I haven’t given much thought of what to do in the future. I’ve been focused lately on the here and now. I’ve been taking things one issue at a time, because if I think of things beyond that, it feels like a mountain. But if I could just get my things packed up to be with my family, then I could make the move from Nimbasa to Opelucid. If I could just put on my shoes, I might be able to get to therapy with Hugh. If I could just get off the couch, maybe I could go boxing with Uncle Marshal.

Everything still takes so much energy. I feel like it takes everything I am to do the little things, but you know, I’m almost happy when I can do the little things? I like going out for dinner with Hugh after therapy. Getting beat up isn’t fun, but I like being with Uncle Marshal, sharing an interest of his, and finding out that I’m really good at it. It’s nice seeing me improve at something. It’s a direct payoff to the amount of work that I put into it, and it feels good to be able to quantify that.

I’ve been so cemented in the present because I keep looking back to the past. The things that could have been. Should have been. What I might have done differently. The things I couldn’t do different. Wishing I could be better, but not having a plan to make it better.

I think it’s mostly because I’m scared. There’s so much that goes into planning your future. The money, finding the job, maintaining your relationships, somehow getting a grip on your own goddamn mental health that’s always spiraling out of control. And I know I have help, but I don’t want to be a burden on them. What’s the difference between leaning on people and making them miserable with holding your dead weight up?

And . . . If I do get things fixed? What then? I’ve always grappled with the impossibilities of life. I’d never have money. I’d never have good mental health. I’d never have a relationship. I’d never be able to do things on my own. I’d never be able to be happy.

But these things are all within reach. The impossibilities are possibilities now. I’m scared I’ll fuck it up somehow. That the rug’s gonna yank out from under me, despite all these people in my life coming together like a net to catch me if I fall.

“Yes!” I jump when Ingo’s fist pumps. “Josey, he’s done it! Look at that!”

I look, and I’ve missed Hugh’s battle with Alder, but it’s apparent he’s come through with a rocking win. Hugh’s crossed a ruined field of battle to Posey, and he’s shrouded in sparks of excitement, shouting and hollering at the top of his lungs. The new Champion of Unova. It’s a good look on him.

I’m not jealous of him. He’s worked hard to get where he is today. He deserves nothing but the best, and I’m glad he’s made it. Who’s to say I can’t make it too?

I stand up from the couch. “Josey?” I hear Ingo ask. “Where are you going?”

Under the TV stand, I pick up the closed letter. Drayden Ajit’s bold, sweeping handwriting is scratched in deep on the front of it. My father’s gym winnings are burning a hole in my pocket. The weight of my mother has never held me back. I hope everyone I’ve loved and lost knows that I intend to do better, and I intend to live my life as happily as I can. My life is changing, and for once, despite the fears of the unknown, I think it’s changing for the better.

I look back at Ingo, and I smile.

“I think I’m going back to college.”

Josey is definitely a static character, but I very much love her for it. My biggest regret of GitM? That I could never get Lenora, the gym leader, in there, because she and Josey would have hit it off like FIRE. I definitely like to imagine Josey meeting one of her heroes someday.

It was sorta hard picking lyrics for this last official chapter. I considered Bastille's Flaws, Rachel Platten's Fight Song, Miley Cyrus's The Climb. But I ended up going with some good ol' Kelly Clarkson, because I don't know. Something about a gut feeling. It also feels nostalgic and makes me wanna cry. So there's that too. (Or maybe it's Josey moving on with life, and it's me too. I am excited to move on to the next project. Who knows.)

Be sure to stay tuned for the epilogue. It's pretty small and it'll come out later on this week when I'm satisfied with the dialogue. I did some stuff post E4 in the game, so I'll post a snapshot of the team I had at the very end of the nuzlocke, when I stopped playing. I did rebuild Josey's team after the E4.

And I know I've said this is my depression fic, but I got myself into a better place, and so will Josey. It's very nice to finally have this finished (epilogue aside) and be able to set it aside for something new. It's been years since I successfully finished a fic too, so I'm feeling quite accomplished. It's very satisfying to finally set Josey and Hugh aside, though I think I'll miss them a lot. They're very dynamic, loved characters that I'll cherish. (And I'll always revisit them in my many AUs.) And just know, in my heart of hearts, that they are happy and very dearly loved in every single AU out there, and even if their official story too.

I hope you all enjoyed this batshit, wild fucking ride. Stay tuned for the epilogue, and catch me this September with my upcoming sunlocke: Come Hell or High Waters.
 

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