We're Out Of Our League
“Do you know anything about Cleopatra?” I inquired to my traveling companion.
“Huh? Cleopatra? No. I’m sorry, I don’t,” June replied, turning to me with surprise.
I turned and squinted at her. “Nothing?”
“Only about as much as you do,” June said, staring back. “She’s the Dark Gym Leader of Dark City. I can’t say I know much more about her.”
“Right,” I mumbled, turning to my Town Map between my hands.
Things between June and I had gotten a little bit better. The atmosphere wasn’t so tense and solemn; depressive and quiet. We were beginning to talk a bit more easily.
“It’s a lot further than I had thought,” I admitted. “I guess it isn’t too strongly displayed on the map just how far away it is. I figured we’d have been there by now.”
“Hm.” June turned away, looking ahead.
I slipped the map back into my backpack.
“Primeape is an obvious choice, right?” June asked, not looking at me.
We walked a rocky path, trees lining one side, a little pond on our other side, the afternoon sun high in the sky, blocked behind clouds.
“Yeah, I suppose,” I answered.
“Baltoy wouldn’t be the best option against her,” June added.
I just nodded.
“Of course, a type advantage isn’t everything, but having one isn’t a bad idea,” June continued.
Primeape, or even Butterfree, could be useful, I thought. My other Pokemon, besides Baltoy, aren’t necessarily stronger or weaker in type, so using them would be a battle based on pure strength and skill.
“Hey, look,” June said, breaking into my thoughts, causing me to look up.
Ahead of us stood three people talking.
“Huh?” I said with surprise, staring at one of the people who seemed to be the only excited member of the group. That one looked familiar.
June and I continued to walk at our regular pace, nearing the three.
Suddenly, a sharp gasp came from out of June. “Oh, my gosh!” Her face broke into an enormous smile. “I cannot believe this!!”
“Huh?” I said to her, turning from the guy who seemed so thrilled to be with the other two, his hands balled into fists, raised to his chest, bouncing on his feet.
The other two young men seemed a bit embarrassed by the third kid.
June ran past me, to them.
The three guys turned around in surprise and stared at June.
“ROBIN!” I shouted in shock.
Robin was the guy who seemed too happy to be with the other two!
Quickly, I sprinted the rest of the way to join the four.
Robin squinted at June. “June?” He turned to me as I screamed out his name. “GARY!” He laughed heartily and smiled broadly. “And JUNE!” Robin stared as June ran eagerly towards him. His smile seemed to widen even further as June got closer to him. He opened his arms and prepared to embrace June in a big, welcoming hug. Robin’s face nearly hit the floor in a mix of shock and disappointment as June ran right past him and stopped in front of the other two men!
“I can’t believe it!” June gushed. “It’s A.J. and Barry!! I can barely keep myself standing right now! What an honor!”
My eyes remained glued on Robin in shock, happiness, and deep down inside, my heart beat just little bit faster from fear.
Robin was still in his stunned position, his arms outstretched as if expecting me to fill the void. He blinked and his eyes focused on me. With a shake of his head, his arms fell and he beamed brightly. “Gary!” He extended his hand and I gripped it tightly, the both of us gripping each in a death grip, smiling competitively.
“It’s been long enough! What are you doing here?”
“I’ve been traveling,” Robin replied. “Training and exploring. Catching and raising. I ran into these two legends not long ago and I’m dying to have a battle with them!” Robin turned to the other two guys with eagerness.
Recognition flickered like a light bulb as I looked up and gasped, finally recognizing the two guys June was fawning over.
Barry! One of the members of the Elite Four! Master of the Ghost type Pokemon!
And A.J.! The Kanto region Pokemon Champion!
The Elite Four were the most powerful Pokemon Trainers in the entirety of Kanto; four Trainers with extreme skill and power whose strength surpassed that of those who compete at the Pokemon League! Winning at the Pokemon League tournament in any region allowed you to battle the Elite Four for that region, and upon victory, you could challenge the Champion League Master for their title!
I couldn’t believe a member of the amazing Elite Four and the Pokemon Champion were standing in front of me!
Barry stood in a long, black trench coat that reached almost down to the ground, nearly covering his gray jeans which ended around his dark blue boots. A bit of his black hair could be seen from underneath his dark blue beanie hat.
A.J. stood in a closed brown jacket, gray sweatpants, and brown and white sneakers on his feet. His dark brown hair sat on top of his head in a spiky fashion. He carried a long brown leather whip in his hand. This guy was well known for being able to control his Pokemon with a crack of that whip.
June was jabbering away excitedly at them, looking somewhat like Robin did just a minute ago.
“Uh…” Robin began. “Did I look anything like how geeked out June is right now?”
“That or I’m experiencing déjà vu,” I told him.
Robin’s hand rose to his forehead with a slap.
“Sandslash.” Standing next to A.J.’s legs stood a large Sandslash I hadn’t noticed before, looking up at June.
“This is totally a highlight in life for me,” June blabbered. “You guys are just fantastic. Amazing. Incredible! Wonderful! Oh, my... C-could I have your autographs?” June dropped her bag to the ground and dug through it, pulling out a pen and a book that looked like a diary in what appeared to be one second flat.
Barry turned to A.J.
A.J. looked back.
Both young men looked stunned.
Barry smiled warmly at June, taking her book and pen. “Sure, June,” he spoke kindly. He scribbled in her book and handed it to A.J., who signed it very quickly and handed it to June, a slightly creeped out look on his face. “Here ya go, then.”
June snatched the book from A.J. and jumped up and down for joy. “YAY! YAY! YAY!”
Barry laughed. “I’m happy that you’re happy!” he said cheerfully.
A.J. just shook his head, staring at June with a look of what could have been pity.
Sandslash was shaking its head, mimicking A.J., watching June warily.
A.J. turned to Barry. “Can we go, now?” he asked impatiently, his southern accent deep. “I think I’ve had enough of meeting the fans for today.”
Barry turned to A.J. “It’s nice to meet the fans, don’t you think?” he asked patiently.
A.J. sighed and shook his head. “Not all the time…”
“What do you mean?” Barry asked as June continued to jump in place excitedly, cheering.
With another sigh, A.J. explained, “It’s always been my dream to be the very best Pokemon Trainer. But I really didn’t need the price of fame to be all the fanfare and worship. I just want to have Pokemon battles that’ll really give me a rush. All the challengers I face are all wimps. My last really intense battle was with the previous Champion, Lance. Since then, I haven’t had a real challenge from anyone.”Barry looked at A.J. exhaustedly. “Well, you are very strong,” Barry acknowledged. “You have incredibly powerful Pokemon.”
“Of course I do!” A.J. snapped. “I am the Pokemon Champion League Master!”
“I know, I know,” Barry said, raising his hands in defense. “I was just saying. Geez.”
A.J. crossed his arms in front of his chest and turned, staring at me.
Sandslash also crossed its arms in front of its chest, staring at me.
“So, who are you?” A.J. spoke sternly.
I swallowed hard.
A.J. sure was intimidating. Not to mention a bit rude and pretty full of himself.
Nothing wrong with a little bit of modesty every once in a while.
“Whatever,” A.J. said before I could respond. “The kid is petrified just by my presence.” He pointed at my belt, where my Poke Balls were, Sandslash also pointing at me. “I hope you aren’t competing for Badges or anything. If you’re too scared to even say your name in front of me, you’ll never make it as a Pokemon Trainer.”
“Sandslash Sandslash!” Sandslash threw in.
“Hey!” I angrily stepped forward. “I’m Gary, from Pallet Town! I’m traveling Kanto to collect eight Badges and compete in the Pokemon League! I’m not afraid of you! I’ll meet you one day real soon when I beat the Pokemon League and the Elite Four, and we’ll have a battle and I’ll beat you, too!”
A.J. laughed. “Tough talk for such a little pipsqueak,” he waved me away, Sandslash also waving at me nonchalantly. “I’ve heard it all before. None of you big mouths have any action.”
“Big mouth??” My anger building. “You’re one to talk!”
“I can back it up,” A.J. smiled smugly.
“Hey, let’s all be friends, okay?” June asked, smiling sweetly at A.J.
A.J. looked at June and sneered, Sandslash also turning to her nastily. “I’ve no time to be friends with weak, worthless people. I’ve things to do.” He walked past June, Sandslash following.
June looked after him in horror at his attitude. She then clutched her book tightly to her chest and stared down at the ground with sadness.
Barry walked closer to June and put his hand on her shoulder. “Don’t let him get to you. He’s really not so bad,” Barry told her quietly. “A.J., come on, now. Don’t be so mean. It’s really not nice.”
“Blah.” A.J. continued to walk, waving away at us, Sandslash mimicking him.
“Wait!” Robin called out. “Let me prove my strength! Please! Don’t turn down my offer! Give me a chance at least!”
I turned to Robin in confusion. “What are you talking about?”
“Give me a chance!” Robin called again. “One-on-one! You and me!”
“Robin!” I cried out in horror. “Are you mad?!”
A.J. kept walking, but him and his Sandslash burst out laughing. “Even your friend thinks you’re no match for me!”
Robin growled at me, and then turned to A.J. “BATTLE ME! COME ON!! JUST TRY ME OUT!! I CAN DO IT!”
A.J. and Sandslash continued laughing loudly.
“A.J.!” Barry shouted. “You hold on!”
A.J. and Sandslash stopped, going silent.
“You’ve been rude enough to these kids,” Barry scolded. “Typically, I don’t really get into too many Pokemon battles myself unless challenged by one of the Elite Four, or you, but you really need to learn to be a lot more respectful. You can’t soil the name of Pokemon Champion like this. It reflects badly on the members of the Elite Four, and that reflects negatively on the Gym Leaders. It creates a bad example for up-and-coming Pokemon Trainers!”
A.J. and Sandslash turned around with cold eyes for Barry.
Barry didn’t back down, instead walking up to A.J. “I know you’re on your vacation and everything, but give this guy a little battle. Please. You’re one of my best friends. Don’t be like this. Just give him a chance, and stop being an ass.”A.J.’s teeth were visibly bared, and his eyes went to Robin.
Robin glared back, his fists balled tight.
“In fact…” Barry turned to me warmly. “How about we make this a Tag Battle? A.J. and I against...” He paused for a second. “Robin and Gary!”
June, Robin, A.J., and I, all gasped at the same time.
Robin and I exchanged glances, his mouth hanging open.
I nodded slowly. “What do you say?”
Robin slowly smiled and burst out laughing. He swiftly and angrily turned to A.J. “If he’s with it, then I am.”
A.J. was leering at the two of us. “Fine, you little suckers. If you want your butts whooped so badly, I’ll give it to you! You’ll regret it, though!”
“Robin, let’s show them what we’re made of!” I eagerly grabbed a Poke Ball.
“Right!” Robin grasped his Poke Ball.
“After all, you did call me for some practice,” Barry nodded to A.J. “This certainly qualifies as a warm up, at least.”
A.J. muttered something nasty under his breath, looking at Barry out the corner of his eye.
Barry turned to me and Robin. “A Tag Battle! A.J. and I against Gary and Robin. First team to lose both Pokemon loses!” Barry threw a Poke Ball to the ground.
“Sableye!” the Pokemon with gems for eyes rasped out at us upon its release.
“It’s Sableye!” Robin let out. “This is great! I have one, too! I traded for her and nicknamed her Gloria!”
I pulled out my Pokedex to check out Sableye.
Sableye. The Darkness Pokemon. This species of Pokemon is typical of most Ghost type Pokemon, desiring to play pranks on people and garner attention towards itself. They eat minerals and gems found in caves so much, their eyes have turned into literal gemstones.
“Sandslash, get em!” A.J. cracked his whip at the ground.
Sandslash leaped into the air, landing next to Sableye.
My heart began to beat faster with excitement and I turned to Robin.
Robin looked to me and winked. “Let’s do this, Gary!”
I nodded back, forcing a smile through my nervousness. “Charmeleon, let’s go!” I yelled, throwing my Poke Ball.
The Poke Ball landed on the ground and popped open, sending out my Charmeleon.
“MEEEEELEON!” Charmeleon spewed a large, powerful stream of fire into the air.
“Catherine, you’re up!” Robin threw her Poke Ball.
“Squirtle, Squirtle!” Catherine said happily. “Squirt?” Catherine looked at Charmeleon, surprised.
“Charmeleon!” Charmeleon said happily to Catherine, giving her a thumbs up and winking.
“Squirtle!” Catherine smiled. She turned around and saw me, her smile widening, her eyes twinkling with delight. She ran towards me.
“Catherine, NO!” Robin barked strongly. He stared at her sternly.
Catherine continued to run up to me and stopped at my feet, reaching up to me.
I stared at her for a moment, a rush of fear and pity flowing through me. She hasn’t changed, I thought. She isn’t listening…
June, who was standing out of the range of the battle, stared at Catherine happily, but with sadness mixed alongside it.
Catherine was jumping up and down, reaching up for me, desiring for me to pick her up.
“Catherine!” Robin bent down and picked her up.
Catherine struggled in his arms for a moment and then stopped, her head lowering in defeat.
“Catherine, you stop this right now!” Robin snapped. “We’re in the middle of a battle! For crying out loud, Catherine, cut the crap! Damn it! I thought we were working on this!”
“Squirtle…” Catherine’s eyes began to water up as she kept her stare down.
“What is this?” A.J. called out. “I thought we were battling! Is that puny little soft shell too afraid or something? I don’t have time for this! In case you didn’t know, I’m on my vacation!”
“One minute!” Robin shouted back. He turned to Catherine and then sighed, setting her down carefully. “Let’s say hi to Gary later, okay?” he asked gently. “This is a very important battle. Please, battle first, and then we can play and stuff. Okay?”
Catherine stared at Robin and smiled. She ran from Robin and stopped at my feet. “Squirtle!” She waved at me like an adorable little child.
“Hey, Catherine!” I greeted her, waving back. “Good to see you again. I’m glad to be battling with you.”
Catherine nodded and ran back to join Charmeleon.
Robin sighed. “That’s not what I just said to do…”
Barry stared fondly at Catherine. “Now that there is just too cute!”
“Enough!” A.J. demanded. “Sandslash, move it!” He cracked his whip. “Dig!”
Sandslash dug underground at the second crack of A.J.’s whip.
“Don’t you think they should’ve had the first move?” Barry asked, looking at A.J. with disappointment.
“They’re too busy goofing off!” A.J. replied impatiently. “They missed their chance!”
“Charmeleon, you use Dig, too!” I ordered.
“Char!” Charmeleon tore through the ground with his claws and disappeared.
Catherine and Sableye eyed each other.
“Catherine, Hydro Pump!”
“Squirtle!” Catherine leaped high into the air and pulled herself inside of her shell. She spun rapidly in place, streams of water blasting out from the holes in her shell.Sableye swiftly dodged the moves, flipping, jumping, bending over backwards, avoiding damage.
“Shadow Claw!” Barry instructed with determination planted on his face.
Sableye leaped into the air to join Catherine, who popped her head, arms, and legs out from the inside of her shell, facing her opponent. Sableye’s arm glowed darkly and became coated in a dangerous looking, black claw silhouette, reaching out to attack Catherine.
Barry’s eyes squinted in confusion.A.J. laughed loudly.
“Robin, no!” I cried to him.
As Sableye swiped at Catherine, Catherine pulled herself back in her shell and spun rapidly at Sableye, dodging the Shadow Claw, but flying right through Sableye. Catherine popped out of her shell again and landed on her feet. “Squirtle!”
“I know what I’m doing, Gary,” Robin said seriously. “Rapid Spin is a Normal type move. Normal type moves can’t hurt Ghost types. I was trying to use a really fast move to avoid Shadow Claw.”
“Oh…” I said softly. “Sorry.”
Robin chuckled at me. “Let’s win this, Gary.”
Catherine charged at Sableye, who was now standing on the ground. She opened her mouth and tried to bite at Sableye, who made a very swift dodge, twisting sideways. Catherine tried again, but Sableye dodged again.
“Shadow Ball!” Barry chose.
“Saaaaaaaableye!” Sableye tossed a dark ball of energy at Catherine.
Catherine’s body was outline in blue and the Shadow Ball bounced right off.
“Charge forward and use Aqua Tail!” Robin followed up.
Catherine ran quickly and her tail was surrounded by water as she took a swing at Sableye with it.
“Stop it!” Barry screamed.
Sableye grabbed Catherine’s tail and stopped the attack, the swirling water disappearing immediately!
Robin gasped. “What?”
My eyes widened in shock. I opened my mouth to order Charmeleon to help out. That’s when I realized… “Where’s Charmeleon?” My eyes swept around the field in a panic. My eyes stopped on A.J., who was smiling at me broadly, calmly, his powerful arms crossed in front of his broad chest. My eyes narrowed at him, my heart pounding. What’s going on here? I wondered. Where’s Charmeleon?
“Shadow Claw!” Barry told his Pokemon.
Catherine struggled hard to escape from Sableye’s grasp as it raised another claw to attack.
“Withdraw!” Robin went.
Catherine pulled herself into the safety of her shell, causing Sableye to loose its grip, Catherine falling to the ground, bouncing once.
Catherine started spinning immediately and used Hydro Pump, catching Sableye as it cried out.
“Not bad!” Barry said, smiling eagerly.
I had to admit, seeing Catherine battle was truly spectacular. She was doing really great against an Elite Four member. It was no wonder Robin was getting so mad that she wouldn’t battle me. She’s a true battler.
But where’s my Charmeleon? And A.J.’s Sandslash? I wondered, looking around, worried, wondering why A.J. was so calm right now, smiling at me.
Sableye fell onto its back but got right back up.
“You’re really good, Robin,” Barry complimented. “Your Squirtle, or, excuse me, Catherine, is so powerful!””Thank you!” Robin glowed with pride.
A.J. was ignoring Barry and Robin, keeping his eyes on me, smiling.
I looked away from him and helplessly gazed around the field. “Charmeleon! Get back here!” I tried.
Robin turned to me and looked around. “Hey… where did…?”
“Sableye, Fury Swipes!” Barry interrupted.
Sableye charged at Catherine, its claws poised to strike.
“Catherine, dodge it!”
Catherine seemed to move with ease, a focused look on her face as she ducked and edged her way around every sharp claw that Sableye swung at her.
Even A.J. turned for a brief moment to glance as Catherine maneuvered around Sableye’s moves.
Barry was beaming, visibly impressed with Catherine, nodding his head.
“Scald attack!” Robin told his Pokemon.
Catherine inhaled deeply and blasted Sableye with a powerful and very hot stream of water.
“SABLEYYYYYYE!” Sableye hit the ground. It laid on its back for a moment. A sudden burst of flames engulfed it before the fire disappeared. Sableye stood up and stared unhappily at Catherine.
“Yeah! You Burned it, Catherine!” Robin cheered, taking a leap of joy into the air.
“Squirtle!” Catherine leaped in the air as well, cheering.
“Feint Attack!” Barry said very coolly, seeming entirely unconcerned.
Sableye walked up to Catherine. “Sableye?” Sableye pointed up into the air in confusion.
“Squirtle?” Catherine looked up into the sky, fooled.
“SABLEYE!” Sableye swung a sharp claw at Catherine.
“SQUIRTLLLLE!” Catherine wailed, flying through the air, eventually sliding along her shell on her back, stopping at Robin’s feet.
“Catherine!” He knelt down to his Pokemon and place a gentle hand on her stomach.
“Squirtle…” Catherine croaked weakly.
“Oh, no!” June said sadly.
Catherine’s out, I knew. “But where’s my Charmeleon?” I insisted, fear pumping into my heart.
A.J. laughed. “Your Pokemon truly are as weak as I thought. Sandslash, now!” He cracked his whip and Sandslash burst through the ground.
It stood up straight, holding my Charmeleon easily in a headlock!
Charmeleon was struggling with all his might, unable to break free.
“Your puny lizard was being restrained by my Sandslash this entire time.” His laughter was cut short and his face went serious. “Now to give you what you deserve. Finish it now!” A.J. cracked his whip.
Sandslash tossed Charmeleon high into the air. A.J. cracked his whip immediately and Sandslash instantly leaped up. It slashed at Charmeleon’s back.
Charmeleon choked out in pain, his eyes widened, forced even higher into the air.
Sandslash curled into a ball and started spinning as it fell to the ground, spun in place once it landed, and stood up.
Everyone watched at Charmeleon fell straight down. He didn’t move.
“Game over, you wimps,” A.J. smirked. “I’m out of here. Come on, Sandslash.”
A.J. turned and walked away, joined by his Sandslash.
Barry looked after A.J. and shook his head. He turned back to us and walked over, smiling. He kneeled down next to Charmeleon. “Hey, there. You did really well, Charmeleon. Thank you for battling today.”
Charmeleon groaned as he sat up and avoided Barry’s eyes, angry, embarrassed eyes to the ground.
Barry rubbed his head. “Don’t be down. You keep on training hard with your Trainer, okay?”Charmeleon nodded, but he didn’t look much happier.
Barry stood up and approached Robin and Catherine.
The Tiny Turtle was being held in Robin’s arms as he cradled her, knees on the ground.
“And, you! You, Catherine, were just phenomenal! I expect great things from you both at the Pokemon League.” Barry patted Catherine’s head. He looked at Robin, and then me. “Both of you.” He returned Sableye to its Poke Ball. “I have to go for now. Good luck to both of you in the future. I’m sure I’ll be challenging you both again real soon. You take care, too, Juni.” He waved to June and quickly jogged off to catch up to A.J.
“Thank you, Catherine. Come back and we’ll get you healed up at the Pokemon Center.” Robin returned Catherine to her Poke Ball.
I walked over to Charmeleon. “Thanks a lot, Charmeleon. Hey!”
Charmeleon looked up at me, weariness and disappointment in his eyes.
“Toughen up!” I said sharply, frowning at him. “Next time, we won’t let that happen! Next time, it’s a victory. Period! We learned a lot, so we can’t lose again! Right?”
Charmeleon kept his eyes on me and stood up. He nodded. “Char! Charmeleon!” He blasted the air with flames repeatedly.
I nodded. “Thank you. Come on back and get some rest.” I returned him to his Poke Ball.
Robin stood up and walked over to me, a huge grin on his face. “That was something, huh? Ha ha ha ha ha!”
“That was really exciting! They sure showed why they’re the rank that they are!”
“Yeah,” June muttered grumpily. “And A.J. showed why you should never meet your hero, or celebrities you like, or whatever…”
Robin laughed and ran up to June, grasping her hand. He bowed a little and took a closer step. “It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it, June?”
“Huh?” June’s eyes bulged out and she took a deep step back.
Robin stepped closer, not letting go of June’s hand. “I missed you since our last meeting when you helped me with Catherine.”
June took another big step back. “Uh… how’s that been working out for you?” she asked nervously, looking at me, and then glancing around helplessly.
Robin took another step closer. “It isn’t perfect, but we’ll get there! We have to! And we’ll have you to thank for it when we do! Ha ha ha ha!”
“Um… thank you, Robin. Really.” June sounded as uncomfortable as she looked. Very. But she still managed a polite smile.
“So, how’ve things been with you? You’re looking as superbly attractive and beautiful as you did the last time I laid eyes upon you.”June’s face turned as red as a tomato. “I… I… What????”
“You’re awfully cute when you’re blushing, like you are now, ha ha ha ha ha!” Robin laughed.
“W-w-w-w-what?” June repeated.
“Your face is about as red as that bikini you were in when you went-OOOWWWWW!!!!!” Robin roared.
I yanked Robin hard by his ear and tore him away from June, letting go when we were a good distance away, and I gave him a stern look, like a parent about to discipline their child. “That’s enough, Rob.” My face then softened. “How’ve you been, my man?”
Robin scowled and rubbed his ear. “I was doing just fine before you tried to take my head off my shoulders.” His anger faded. “How’ve you been? Ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
“I’m good,” I replied. “I’m headed to Dark City to get my sixth Gym Badge!”
“You, too?” he asked with a broad smile.
“Too?” I repeated.
“Yeah! I’m headed there for my ninth Badge!”
“HA HA HA HA HA! Why not???” he challenged. “I’m still in training and the Pokemon League won’t be taking place for another few months! You can never train too much. And clearly I’ve got a long way to go to becoming a Pokemon Champion! Ha ha ha! That guy sure was a jerk though…” He leered in the direction we last saw A.J., his smile gone.
“Yeah...” I agreed, still in shock over how many Badges Robin had. “But, Barry’s pretty cool, huh?”
“Yeah, he was a good guy!” Robin laughed. “Say, have you heard from Kiwi, yet?” His face switched to concern.
The fear that had been beating through my heart the moment I had seen Robin, suddenly returned. I knew where this conversation was headed. “No,” I said quietly, lowering my head.
“What??” Robin cried out. “Gary, what do you mean, ‘no’?”
It hurt me to see the worry on his face. The pain. He was scared.
Like I was. “I haven’t see Kiwi, yet, Robin,” I repeated, my eyes dropping again.
“I’ve called Prof. Oak.” Robin’s hands rose a little in desperation before falling instantly to his sides. “I’ve called him a few times. Last time we spoke, Kiwi’s mom was a wreck. The Professor says she’s fine, but I know he’s worried about her, too. You can see it in his face. He’s strong.”
He doesn’t know, I thought, staring into Robin’s face.
Robin’s eyebrows furrowed. “She has to be okay!” he insisted. “We promised we’d be Pokemon Masters! We all have to make it! Together! You. Me. Kiwi. Aly. We can’t stop. We have to make it. Nobody- Gary?”
Robin blurred in my vision as tears clouded my eyes.
“Gary, what’s wrong, man?”
I heard June whimper lightly, her voice breaking uncontrollably.
Robin turned to her, his mouth now open, and he turned back to me. “Gary! What’s wrong??” he demanded, grabbing my shoulders.
I didn’t answer. I couldn’t answer.
He gripped me roughly and shook me hard. “What do you know? Where’s Kiwi? What happened to her, Gary?!”
I grabbed Robin’s shoulders as hot tears rolled down my face. “I don’t know what happened to Kiwi,” I told him. “I don’t know.”
“Then why are you crying?” Robin voice was getting angrier with impatience. “Why is June crying?”
I opened my mouth to speak, but only air came out. Swallowing, I tried again. “Aly,” I managed. “Aly.”
“Aly?” Robin asked. “Aly what?”
I let go of Robin and wiped my eyes on my coat sleeve, but the tears kept flowing. Struggling to break free from Robin’s tightening hold proved impossible.
“What the hell is going on here, Gary?!” Robin’s fingers were digging through my jacket, hurting me. “Spit it out!”
“Aly… Died…” I whispered. The drop I finally made to my knees seemed to take ages before landing. The only sound I could hear was the sound of me crying, heaving.
I hadn’t gotten over Aly, but I’d made so many strides to be strong about it and move forward, in the name of Aly. For Aly’s sake. But now, having to tell Robin this, all of my hard work felt like it had been destroyed. I had to relive it all again. My head bent over, tears falling fast, not only suffering myself, but having to be the one to tell Robin, was unbearable. To bring this down upon him was torture unknown. It seemed like I was there for about an hour, just crying nonstop. Something touched my shoulder.
Robin was kneeling down next to me, his face covered in tears. “Gary…” he whispered. “How…?”
I broke down and wrapped my arms around him in a hug and cried against his shoulder, bawling like a baby, letting it all out. The tears were endless, my arms hugging Robin so tightly. I coughed and choked and cried, making a mess all over him, completely out of control of my emotions.
Robin was crying along with me, holding me in a strong clutch, his arms around me, his hands gripping me tightly.
The two of us cried. Cried like never before in our entire lives.
I hadn’t even cried like this when I had found out that my dad had died.
Robin let go of me and held me out in front of him, his hands gripping my shoulders, staring at me. “Tell me, Gary!” he begged.
I struggled for words, and they finally came to me. “Solace. Team S-s-s-olace,” I stammered weakly. “It was on the r-r-adio. It’s g-g-gotta be all over the n-news. They killed her.”
“WHAT?” More tears rapidly dripped out from his face, his fingers digging deeper as he shook me a bit.
“We went to the Radio Tower and they took over,” I explained, wiping at my face. “They held everyone hostage and Aly...” This was too much. I could barely continue with it. “...Aly refused... and they shot… her…” I snorted hard, but more snot ran from my nose as I continued to cry. “She died...” I swallowed a glob of mucus in my throat. “The police came, but they escaped. They got away. Most of them got away.”
Robin stared at me in shock. His hands slid off of me and fell to the ground.
I swallowed repeatedly, my throat seeming to continuously be blocked off. My body shivered hard in the silence, my heartbeat hitting me so hard.
Robin suddenly shoved me angrily.
There was no way to prepare for that, and I hit the ground hard.
“WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO?” he raged.
I stared up at him in terror, lying on my back. “W-w-what?” I asked.
“What did you do?? You were there!! What did you do to help her??!” Robin got to his feet, hovering over me like a bully. “Why didn’t you save her?!”
“I COULDN’T!” I pleaded. “I tried, Robin!! I did, but she was so upset! You weren’t there! They were saying terrible things about Pokemon! They got her so angry, and she lost control!! I told her to stop, but she yelled at me! She let her emotions take over! I tried, Robin!”
“So you’re blaming Aly, now??” Robin grabbed me by my coat and pulled me up to him. He pulled back a fist in the air.
“No, Robin, I’m not!” I stared in shock at his fist, poised to hit me.
“NO!” A hand grabbed Robin’s fist.
I turned to see a face full of tears that belonged to June.
Robin whipped his head around to see June. “GET OFF OF ME!!”
“Don’t you dare do this to your friend,” June whispered, tears rolling down her cheeks, shaking her head. “Do you truly think Gary wouldn’t have done anything more if he could have? Stop this, Robin. Right now.”
Robin stared at June, breathing heavily, breathing shakily.
“Please, Robin. Gary loved her as much as you did. He’s your friend. He would’ve died for Aly if he had the chance to. Don’t let your emotions take over you. Please. Aly wouldn’t want this, honey.”
Robin stared at June for a moment longer before turning to me and letting me go.
I collapsed before him, my eyes looking up. “I’m sorry, Robin,” I whispered. My body lowered as if bowing to him. “I wish I could’ve done more. I would’ve. Believe me, please. In that situation, things were just so panicked and hectic. I’m so sorry.”
Robin kept silent for a while.
I just cried helplessly at his feet.
It seemed to be several minutes before I heard his voice. “I dedicated myself to my training,” Robin said in a low voice. “I haven’t been around for the news and stuff much, lately. My… Aly…” Robin covered his face just as I looked up and witnessed it break. His mouth opened and he inhaled loudly, deeply. “ALYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!”
June wiped at her eyes as they continued to shed more tears.
“Who are these Team Ssssolace guys???” Robin’s hands dropped sharply, his tears flowing even faster.
“I only know there is one guy named Dave, and another man, the leader, named Isaac.” My eyes were down, unable to handle facing Robin as I spoke. “They have many different people working for them. Men and women. They could be anyone. Dave was working at the Safari Zone as the Warden for years.”
“If I find one of these creeps, I SWEAR!” Robin’s fists balled furiously. “I will kill one of them with my BARE HAAAAAAANDS!!!”
Silence befell us all, shortly.
“Does Kiwi’s disappearance have anything to do with those freaks??”
“I don’t really know,” I answered in a weak voice.
“What? Speak up, damn you!”
My patience for Robin’s attitude was running dry. “I DON’T KNOW! I haven’t seen her since Saffron!” I shivered thinking back on that place.
“Did these Solace jerks have anything to do with what occurred there??” His voice was coming off more and more accusatory towards me, to my ears.
“NO!” I got up, getting in Robin’s face. “That was completely unrelated!” Thinking back on Saffron City bothered me. Not just because of what occurred there, but also because incidents like that were what brought a group like Team Solace into existence in the first place. I hated to justify anything Team Solace was doing. What they were doing, and how they were thinking, was psychotic and contradictory, but the Pokemon world was indeed a very dangerous place sometimes.
“Please.” June placed a hand on each of our shoulders as we glared at each other, ready to fight. “Please…”
My face softened after a while and I looked mournfully at Robin.
Robin kept glaring, but he turned it away from me.
The next night, I walked along the rocky path, lined by only trees, beyond the pond now.
June walked beside me without a word.
Robin walked on the other side of June, behind us both, quietly.
The rest of the day yesterday had been spent wordless, but not silent.
There had been a lot of crying from June.
There was even more crying from me, reliving the loss of my friend, moving backwards, back into the torment and loss, going through it again like Aly had never died and was being killed in front of my eyes once more.
Robin’s mourning had to be the worst of us all, experiencing the pain for the first time.
We had all fallen asleep late that night in separate areas of the woods, though I heard them both clearer than the crickets and insects near my head.
When the new day came, we sat together for breakfast. Briefly.
June seemed to eat moderately enough, but then departed without a word, presumably to feed her Pokemon since she took her bag with her.
I only ate a little, and June leaving actually reminded me to feed my own Pokemon, as bad as that sounds.
Robin hadn’t eaten since we came upon him the previous day, and when he saw me feeding my Pokemon, he looked up to where June had disappeared and then went off in another direction with his belongings.
We all came back together again several hours later.
It was nighttime before we had finally stood up and silently proceeded down the path to Dark City, despite having not eaten a thing in all that time.
There was no way I could leave Robin by himself after what I had told him. Even if, as Pokemon Trainers, and especially as rivals, it was best for us to take separate paths, I couldn’t let him journey alone. We were friends before all of this Pokemon traveling. He needed me now more than ever.
Robin would be traveling with me and June for as long as he wished to stay.
It was now me.
Traveling together to Dark City.
Kiwi, as well.
Fresh on our minds.
My sister, Melissa, also on mine.