Saving The Best For Last
“Gary, don’t leave me behiiiiind!” June called from far behind me.
“We’re almost there!” I called back eagerly. “I can see Prof. Oak’s Lab from here!” I ran as fast as I could through the open plains of Route 1, Pallet Town in my sights beyond the winding trail leading up to the famous mansion. Excitement rushed through my body and I smiled even broader, speeding ahead, and landed my first step in almost a year onto Pallet Town. I tore past the path to Prof. Oak’s Lab, aimed for one specific spot.
“Gary! Wait! Prof. Oak’s place is right here!”
“We’re not going there first!” My smile was plastered on my face. There was one place I was far more eager to reach before seeing the Professor.
“I have been dying to see Prof. Oak, Gary!!” June screamed shrilly through my hometown. “Don’t do this to me!!”
“We’ll definitely see him, June! But right now, I have to go somewhere much more important, first!”
“HOME!” I turned the corner and tore past several houses, finally stopping after a couple more minutes, breathing hard, trembling everywhere, thrilled.
June caught up to me a moment later, gasping for air, and grabbed my shoulder with one hand to hold herself up. “This is your house?”
“Yeah,” I nodded. “This is where I grew up my entire life. My mom should be inside.” I turned to June. “She’s never met you before. I’ve never so much as even mentioned you to her.”
June stood up straight and eyed me nervously. “Will she dislike me?”
“No. Why would she?”
“I dunno.” June’s eyes lowered. “I’m a girl. She may not like the idea of you traveling with a girl. She may not approve of me.”
“You’re just my friend, June. It’s not like I’m introducing my girlfriend to my mom.”
“I know...” June kept her head down.
“Then don’t act like that,” I said impatiently. “This should be fine. I hope.”
“You hope?” June gazed at me.
“Yeah. My mom is okay, I guess. She is. I’m sure she’ll like you.”
“You and your mom don’t get along very well. I know.”
Sadness began to build up inside me as I stared back, but I was still also eager for the chance to see my mom after all this time. I took a deep breath in and out, facing my house.
June’s hand tightened on my shoulder. “You okay?”
I nodded, not looking at her. “It’s been such a long time. Nearly a whole year. So much has happened.” I lightly chuckled. My smile broadened and I ran along the smooth path made of separated stones, through the grassy front yard to the door. I rang the doorbell and held my hands behind my back. I should’ve bought a gift, I thought.
“Who is it?” a voice called from inside.
“Mommy, it’s me! Gary!”
“Gary??” my mom cried out.
“Yeah, mom! It’s me, and a friend of mine!”
“Oh, my goodness!” The door flung open, my mom wearing a look of disbelief on her face and she gasped. She was wearing blue jeans, a white shirt, and white sneakers. “Gary!” She reached out and sharply wrapped me up tightly in her arms.
I tightly hugged her back and kissed her cheek.
She kissed me back and began sniffling. “Gary,” she said through tears. “You’re home! You finally came back home!”
“Yeah, mom. I came back to Pallet Town for a quick visit.”
“Visit? What do you mean?” She gently let go of me and placed her hands on my shoulders, staring into my eyes.
“I got all eight Badges!” I exclaimed. “I can now compete in the Pokemon League that’s gonna take place in a matter of weeks!” I pulled out my Badge case and opened it, revealing my eight Badges inside.
My mom looked at the case. She cocked her head, her mouth slightly open as she squinted hard, her eyebrows narrowed in confusion. She then sucked her teeth and turned to me angrily and stood up. “So you’re still out playing with those things? You haven’t come home because you’ve decided to stop all of this?”
“Of course not, mom!” I said angrily, hurt inside. “I’ve come so far and gone through so much! I’ve grown up from my experiences, thanks to Pokemon. Of course I haven’t quit! I won’t quit, ever! Even when I become the world’s greatest Pokemon Master. Pokemon will always be a part of my life!”
My mom glared and opened her mouth to yell at me, but her eyes suddenly looked over, behind me. Her face softened just slightly but still remained stern. “Who’s this?”
I turned to see June looking up innocently at my mother. She smiled and stepped up beside me. “Hello. It’s a pleasure to meet you, ma’am. My name is June!” She reached out a hand, which my mom took, and they gently shook.
I closed my Badge case and slipped it into my pocket.
“Hello, June,” my mom greeted her with a big smile. “I’m Gary’s mother. Are you a friend of Gary’s?”
“Yes! I’m the ex-Gym Leader of Gringey City. I was the Electric type Gym Leader. Unfortunately, I wasn’t doing well at my job and was on the verge of getting fired. After meeting Gary, and seeing how strong and amazing a relationship he has with his Pokemon, I instantly realized that I wanted that with my own Pokemon. I quit my job as a Gym Leader to travel with Gary and learn how I can have with my Pokemon, what he has with his. Your son is absolutely amazing and inspiring to me!”
Ugh. Shut up already, June, I thought harshly.
My mom quickly shot me a suspicious look and a smirk before turning back to June warmly. “Well, that’s very nice. You seem so young to have had such a job.”
“Yes, well, I’m thirteen.”
My mom gasped. “Thirteen? You’re just a baby!”
June blushed and smiled. “I certainly still have a lot to learn.”
“Well, why don’t you two come inside!” my mom urged, stepping aside and waving us in, closing the door behind us.
“-Team Solace,” a voice from the flat screen television on the wall grabbed my attention instantly. The news was on. A young man with a stern face, short black hair, and wearing a dark gray suit, sat behind a large, wooden black desk, speaking. “Members identified as being a part of Team Solace held a family of Spoink against their will for a demand that has yet to be disclosed. The Psychic type pigs were suspended in the air in a net made of antipsychokinetic fabric preventing them from using their psychic powers to free themselves, and restricting their movements. It’s well known that if a Spoink is prevented from bouncing, their hearts can stop and they will die, which is what ended up happening.” A picture of an Officer Jenny appeared onscreen next to the reporter. “Officer Jenny tried to rescue them, but was captured and later killed by use of poisoning. It’s believed Team Solace may have used a Pokemon to admin-” The TV went black and silent.
I turned to see my mom holding the remote, her eyes closed, shaking her head. “Not the time for that,” she whispered.
I turned to June, who had her hand covering her mouth, her eyes wide in fear.
There was an awkward silence in the room for a long time.
June’s hand lowered and she swallowed. Clearing her throat, she slowly forced a smile and looked up at my mom. “Ma’am, how has your day been?” she asked, her voice quivering slightly.
My mom smiled and turned to June. “It’s been just fine, darling. I’m so glad you both are here. How have you been?”
“Well, Gary was so eager to get here, he ran like a madman! So, the trip here was fast paced, which isn’t really my preference.” She giggled. “He really was excited to get here. I’m glad we got here, too. You have a lovely home, ma’am.”
“Oh, thank you, darling!” my mom replied. “I’m surprised Gary was eager to come see me.” She turned to me, a snotty look on her face.
Don’t start that, mom, I thought, squinting at the floor, sighing.
Me and my mom have always had a rough relationship, but whenever I tried to show her I wanted to work through it, or move on, or do something nice for her, I was often greeted with a rude attitude implying her being surprised I’d do anything nice for her. It hurt me every time she did that.
“Gary, you really should’ve told me your were coming. I would’ve prepared you something nice. If you stay for the day, I’ll be sure to cook you up a real meal for you and your friend. Do you like meatloaf, June?”
June looked to my mom brightly. “Oh, of course!”
“I have some leftovers I made yesterday. I was thinking about making some yesterday morning for some crazy reason,” my mom began detailing with some friendly enthusiasm, “and when I finally got off my lazy butt and made it down to the store, I got the meat, and the sauce, and all that good stuff. I thought of you, Gary. I know how much you used to love my meatloaf.”
“And I still do, mom!” I insisted.
“Or, I could make some pancakes. You still like those, right? Blueberry?”
“That’d be awesome, too, mom!” I was getting more and more excited.
She raised both open palms towards me. “Hold up, wait now. We can’t have both, okay?” my mom said with a little laugh. “You gotta choose one. Pancakes and meatloaf just sounds disgusting.”
“Eeeewww,” June giggled.
My mom laughed. “You know what I’m sayin’, June?”
June nodded, tilting her head at me, smiling teasingly.
“I didn’t mean to imply I wanted both! I just meant they both sound like a great meal. Individually!”
“Well, which one would you like?” my mom asked.
“I could sure go for some meatloaf,” I admitted. “I haven’t had any real home cooking in such a long time!”
“Well, you’d have plenty of it if you weren’t off traveling with Pokemon,” my mom said disapprovingly. “What do you eat out there?”
“We buy food from stores, and eat in the Pokemon Center cafeterias.” I was getting agitated.
“It’s not like my cooking, though, is it?” My mom looked at me expectantly.
I sighed angrily and looked at the ground, frowning. “No, mom.”
“Of course it isn’t,” she stated with satisfaction, a smirk on her face, irritating me even further. “I don’t get why you travel with those things at all. If you just stay home, you’ll get food everyday, shelter, clean clothes. I mean, look at you! You look a mess.”
I looked down at my smudged clothing. Through time and experience, I had learned how to better take care of my clothing and clean up, even when traveling through rough terrain, and keep myself looking halfway presentable. For a Pokemon Trainer, at least. I brushed off my clothes a bit and looked up at my mom.
“Pokemon are no good, Gary,” my mom continued. “They are no good for you, or any of us. Please, stay home where it’s safe. I care about you. I love you. I only want what’s best for you. Don’t you understand?”
The look on my mom’s face was heartbreaking and made me feel weakened and sad. But something about what she said kept me together, refusing to shed any tears. Something in what she said angered me. Something within her statement tread dangerously close to something Team Solace might say, and I opened my mouth to call her out on it as my anger started to rise.
“Ma’am, if I may,” June said, stepping up, preventing me from talking. “I understand your feelings towards Pokemon.”
My mouth, open to speak, dropped open further in shock.
My mom’s eyes widened as she looked down at June. “Really?”
“Yes. I know you worry about your son. I know you love him so much. It’s so evident that you only care. But, ma’am, Pokemon are not our enemies. I understand why you don’t like Pokemon, but I can’t agree with it. Pokemon are our friends. People and Pokemon get along together and help each other grow and evolve, in more ways than one. Together, for more centuries than we may ever know, we’ve shaped this world into what it is today through love and friendship as we sought to live together in peace. The travels of a Pokemon Trainer are one that can’t be told properly, or fully felt, nor fairly appreciated, except that you go on one for yourself. Seeing real Pokemon in person, experiencing their special skills and abilities that you as their Trainer can pride yourself in knowing you helped them master, gives you an appreciation for Pokemon as a whole like you could never do just by reading about them or watching them on TV. Yes, Pokemon can be very dangerous, but so can human beings. Any animal, plants, fish. The world is just a very scary place to live in sometimes, but it’s a place of beauty that just needs a lot more fixing. In the meantime, people and Pokemon deserve love and respect from each other. People, Pokemon... All life! We’re all beautiful creatures who deserve a chance. Sometimes, more than just one.”
“You’re right,” my mom agreed quickly, nodding her head.
WHAT?! I screamed angrily in my head, glaring at her. I had clearly been trying to tell my mom for almost a year now that Pokemon were good and that humans and Pokemon should be together, but she continued to yell at me and disagree!
Now, June was saying the exact same thing, and my mom was going along with it?! She did this kind of thing all the time to me. Disagreeing with me but when what I say is repeated by someone else, she listens. It drove me nuts!! Absolutely insane!! It was so unfair!!
I wanted to shove June out of the way and just scream at the top of my lungs at my mom, but I held in the urge and listened.
“I agree with you, June,” my mom said. “You speak a lot of sense. I’ve never really looked at it that way before.”
My teeth were clenched so tight, I thought they might crack. I didn’t care.
“Really? You agree with me?” June asked happily.
“NO!” I shouted, unable to take it anymore.
June and my mother gasped and turned to me, shocked.
“I’VE BEEN TELLING YOU ALL OF THAT FOR THE LONGEST TIME!!!” I stomped towards my mom.
“Gary! Why are you yelling?” June gasped.
“He does this all the time,” my mom explained to June. “He gets into these fits of rage and just loses it completely.”
“SHUT UP!!” My entire self had split open. I was no longer in control of myself. “I’M SICK OF YOU ALWAYS MAKING ME OUT TO BE THE CRAZY ONE! I ALWAYS HAVE TO END UP LOOKING BAD!!”
“Gary, you’re screaming!” June pleaded. “And you’re the only one screaming! Please, calm down. What is wrong with you?”
“It’s not me! It’s her!!” I knew I was looking like the crazy one, but I also knew that I wasn’t. I tried hard to explain my case. “You’ve been told by everyone from my dad, Melissa, and me, that Pokemon are good! Even Prof. Oak tried to explain it to you! But then, JUNE comes along and explains it, and everything is freaking fine now?? NOW you freaking get it? NO! You DON’T get it! You don’t get a damn thing! You’re just lying! When June is gone, and we speak again, you’ll go right back to your old feelings about Pokemon! You’re just two faced! Freaking two faced!”
“GARY!” June shrieked and stepped in front of me, rage on her face, her fists shaking at her sides.
I didn’t tear my eyes away from my mom, who was staring at me coldly. Her eyes watered and tears dripped from them.
“Oh, cut out the water works, mom!” My heart was beating frantically, regret pumping through my veins now.
June shoved me back, but I only stumbled back a couple of steps, keeping my eyes on my mom. “Gary! What has gotten into you?” June barked.
“So you’re going to bring up your father, huh?” my mom sniffled, wiping at her eyes. “And Melissa, too?”
My heart beat faster, realizing what I’d said and done. I opened my mouth, but I couldn’t find the words to use.
“Fine,” my mom spoke shakily. “I’m a liar, and I’m two faced, and whatever else you want to call me. I’m also a widow, and am missing one of my two children, and my remaining child hates me. Fine, Gary. As long as you’re happy with your Pokemon, okay? Nothing else matters but Pokemon. Pokemon, Pokemon, Pokemon! And you know what? You don’t have to ever call me again, Gary! We never have to talk to one another for as long as we live if you don’t want to! You can just consider me dead! I’ll be dead soon, anyway!” She stormed towards the stairs and stomped up them, June and I watching. A moment later, the door to her room upstairs slammed shut, making June and I both jump.
June looked to me with disgust and shook her head. “I’ve never seen this side of you, Gary. That was horrible! I’ve never seen you in this light before, and let me tell you, I am not impressed.”
I looked down in shame.
“Look at me!!”
I looked up instantly, surprised.
“You damn well better be ashamed, you little spoiled brat!” she sneered. “How dare you speak to the woman who gave birth to you in that manner! The woman who housed you in this wonderful home. Fed you, clothed you! And all because she is worried about your well being? All because she listened to me and what I had to say, and not you? If I were her, I wouldn’t want to hear a damn, stinking word from out of your filthy mouth either! If I were her, I’d beat your little spoiled butt red, in front of company! The utter nerve you have! You go up there and apologize to your mother right this instant!” She shoved a hard finger towards the stairs.
At this point, I was even afraid to breathe. I swallowed hard and turned towards the stairs. I couldn’t argue with June. I was actually afraid this might turn into a physical fight.
A fight that June would win.
My feet slid across the carpet as I neared the stairs, June following behind me. I climbed slowly, one step at a time, my legs quaking harder with each slowly passing second. I knew I was wrong to speak to my mom like that. I knew better. I also knew my anger came from a place few people, if any, were going to understand from my point of view. After reaching the landing, my body managed to maneuver down the hallway despite the nausea swimming throughout me. I passed my room, the door closed, and stopped at my mom’s door. I knocked a few times and listened.
She was inside, crying in a low voice.
“Mommy?” I called gently.
“GO AWAY!” she shouted, and then sniffled.
I sighed. “Mom, please, can we talk?” I jiggled the door handle, but it was locked. “Mommy, please?”
“Just go away!”
“Get out of my house! Just get out! Get out or I’m calling the police!”
“For what?” I couldn’t believe her words. “I didn’t do anything!”
I turned to June.
She was looking at the door with a look of sorrow and pity. When I turned to face her, she scowled at me, shaking her head. She turned back to the door with a gentle gaze. “Ma’am? It’s me, June. Can we come inside for a moment and talk? Please?”
“No,” my mom said in a much calmer, though hard, voice. “I don’t want to! Please, June. I just want to be left alone.”
“I understand, ma’am.” June smiled gently. “We’ll take our leave. Excuse us. And thank you for allowing me inside.”
My mom didn’t say anything.
June grabbed my hand and angrily pulled me down the hallway, down the stairs, and out the door, gently closing it behind us. She let go of me, turned swiftly, and slapped me across the face once, twice, three times, going for a fourth and fifth time but I had backed up and raised my arms to protect myself and cried out for her to stop. She turned her back to me and crossed her arms.
I stood shocked, holding my face. What could I say? My face stung from the slaps. My eyes watered and June became a blur. I blinked out the tears and turned away from her, walking through the front yard, past the flowers alongside the grass, and away from my house. I walked alone, blinking away more tears that fell for the ground, thinking about what had occurred between me, my mom, and June. I honestly was embarrassed at my behavior. And it was over something so small and insignificant.
Surprisingly, June’s footsteps trailed from behind me.
I didn’t turn to her. I continued to walk to my next decided upon destination after all of this.
Before long, Prof. Oak’s Lab sat in front of us.
I remembered standing in this area after I had gotten into an argument with my mom the day I was to receive my very first Pokemon. The day I saw the Rattata. I turned to the spot where the Rattata had been sitting, staring at me with a look deeper than comprehension. I turned to where I had seen a mysterious creature vanish through the trees, flying. All I had seen of it was a pink tail, flying through the air, in a similar shape of a Rattata’s tail. The Rattata had disappeared, and I had chased the mystery creature into the woods, only to encounter a Spearow with the same look of a hidden secret in its eyes. I had tried to grab the Spearow with my hands, but it got away. During its flight away from me, just before fading from view, it seemed to be altering its form somehow. I was sure it had just evolved in that moment.
I sighed and finally turned to June.
She was looking at me curiously, but looked away when I turned to her.
I looked back at Prof. Oak’s Lab and took a deep breath. Together, we walked up the winding road towards the enormous lab owned by Prof. Oak.
June was walking noticeably closer to me now.
I stopped at the door and knocked several times.
A couple of minutes later, the door opened.
“GARY!” Prof. Oak beamed. “My boy, how are you?”
“H-” I began.
“PROFESSOR OAK!” June shoved me out of the way. “IT’S REALLY YOU! IT’S REALLY YOU! AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!”
Her scream nearly matched Porygon-Z’s and made me and Prof. Oak cover our ears in shock.
“Sir, I can’t believe this is happening!” June bounced in front of him. “I get to meet the legend himself today! This is the best day EVERRRRRR!!”
Prof. Oak laughed. “Well, if it isn’t Jane. How nice to see you again!”
“Jane?” June froze in shock. She busted out laughing. “You silly, wonderful, sir, you! My name is June! But it’s understandable you forgot. You only met me once, thanks to Gary always hanging up the phone before I can talk to you.” She turned to me and scowled.
Picking myself up from the ground, I leered back at her.
“Right! June!” Prof. Oak said, rubbing the back of his head. “I apologize. Wonderful as always to see you. And Gary, what brings you here? Please, you two, do come inside.”
June eagerly skipped inside and I followed, embarrassed. My companion went crazy inside of the mansion. She ran to the bookshelves, touched the sculptures, watched the computer screens, peeked under the couch, sniffed the air hard, and got on her knees and rubbed the wooden floor with her bare hands.
Prof. Oak and I watched her like a science experiment before Prof. Sketchit walked in through one of the doors. He was wearing red shorts with a matching red T-shirt, a white lab coat over his shirt. His orange bandana was around his forehead. His sneakers were mostly black with white spots among them.“Gary! I can’t believe it’s you! How’ve ya been?” He ran up to me but stopped once he saw June facing the back of the couch, gripping it in her hands repeatedly, a stern look on her face. “Oh, we have another guest?”
June turned to the Professor’s aide and smiled. “Hello! Who are you?” she greeted him, extending her arm.
“I’m Prof. Sketchit,” the older gentleman greeted June. “I work as Prof. Oak’s assistant!”
“AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!” June screeched.
Prof. Sketchit screamed and covered his ears and I jumped in shock, Prof. Oak crying out and covering his ears again.
“You are the luckiest person on EARTH!” June squealed. “You have to tell me all about how it’s like to work with the master genius, Prof. Oak! Do you both do research on Pokemon together? Do you get to hear about his latest discoveries before anyone else? Do you eat dinner together? Do you scrub his back in the bath?”
“WHOA!” Prof. Sketchit waved his arms at June, looking at her with wide eyes. “I most certainly do not scrub the Professor’s back!”
“I may be getting on in my old age, but I’m not incapable of taking care of myself,” Prof. Oak laughed. “Tracey helps me take care of all of the Pokemon in my lab! Without him, this would be quite frankly impossible! I’d have of course hired some help way before now. Tracey is nonetheless doing a great job, and I couldn’t be more pleased with his work.”
“Gee, thanks, Prof. Oak.” Prof. Sketchit shyly rubbed the back of his head, blushing.
June grabbed Prof. Sketchit’s hands in hers and got close to his face. “Tell me all about Prof. Oak, please! Take me to the famous research area, won’t you? Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Please?Pl-?”
“How about we all go there together?” Prof. Oak laughed as Prof. Sketchit blushed harder, his eyes wide with discomfort on June.
June gasped and turned to Prof. Oak, dropping Prof. Sketchit’s hands. “THAT’D BE AMAZING!!!!”
“Then right this way, everyone!” Prof. Oak led the way through a door in the back.
I recognized the room we were in.
Metal shelf after metal shelf contained various Poke Balls from a multitude of different Trainers who’d received their Pokedex from Prof. Oak.
June marveled at the walls of Poke Balls and ran through the aisles like a child.
Prof. Sketchit ran after her, trying to calm her down, explaining what the room was.
“You don’t have any new Pokemon,” Prof. Oak said privately, stealing my attention as June and Prof. Sketchit got lost in the aisles.
“Oh... Yeah... Um...”
“You haven’t captured many Pokemon at all, Gary,” Prof. Oak scolded. “I’m quite disappointed in you.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. I could just about cry right now. My head dropped. Today just wasn’t my day.
“It’s harder than you thought, isn’t it?” Prof. Oak’s tone had lightened.
I kept my head down and nodded. “Yes, sir,” I muttered.
“I understand, my boy. I can understand. I was a Pokemon Trainer, too, once. I understand what it’s like out there. I believe you are trying, but I also believe you can try harder. Bagon. Trying as hard as it can, it reaches with wings.”
“Was that another poem from the legendary Prof. Oak???” June appeared in front of Prof. Oak from literally out of nowhere, startling the poor old man, as well as myself. She looked admiringly at the man.
“Why, yes, it was,” Prof. Oak said, staring at June with frightened eyes.
“I could just pass out right here!” June said joyously, spinning in place, the back of her hand to her forehead.
I am never taking June here again, I promised myself.
Prof. Sketchit stumbled from around the corner, gasping for air, exhausted from chasing June.
“But if you do that, you will miss the research area!” Prof. Oak grinned, and reached out to grab the door right behind June.
June moved out of the way as the Professor opened the door slowly.
The hot sun from above beamed down on the four of us, causing us to squint and shield our faces with our hands.
June let out a shrill cry and ran forward, gazing at the gigantic field below, filled with what looked like every Pokemon imaginable. She stopped near a pair of Nidoran, one male, one female, snuggling together, and terrified the cute couple, causing them to run away. June didn’t seem to notice this as she ran over towards a couple of Linoone wrestling nearby, who stopped playing and looked up at June eagerly. June then ran towards a group of Spinda, stumbling around in assumed confusion, and then ran towards the lake where a group of Surkit were skidding across the pond. My friend continued to run about the outdoors in a happy daze.
A group of Butterfree flew by and spun circles around the delighted girl before flying away.
Prof. Oak walked after June, Prof. Sketchit hesitantly following, a wary look on his face as he watched her.
I removed my jacket in the continuously uncomfortable heat and slung it over my shoulder before following the group, watching June with exasperation.
“Gary, how is my old friend, Charizard, doing?” Prof. Oak asked.
“Ha! See for yourself!” I grabbed his Poke Ball, enlarged it, and threw it into the sky.
Charizard was sent out and roared eagerly, blowing flames high, circling overhead, and finally landing on the ground heavily, making it quake a bit. He let out another happy roar and blew more fire upwards.
“Charizard! How good to see you again,” Prof. Oak greeted him, patting his stomach. “And just look how healthy you are. You’ve come such a long way from your days as a Charmander.”
“Yeah! Especially considering the way you two started off!” Prof. Sketchit chimed in, walking behind Charizard. “And your Charizard’s flame on its tail is incredible! You’ve done an astounding job raising your Charizard, Gary!”
“Thanks a lot, Prof. SKetchit,” I beamed with pride. I looked up at my Charizard as he looked back me. We truly have come a long way, Charizard, I thought. Something then popped into my head that made me turn to Prof. Oak. “Sir, have you seen Robin?”
Prof. Oak turned to me, a solemn look falling over his face. “In fact, yes, I did. He was here a few days ago, but he’s long gone by now. He should be at the Pokemon League Village, which is the resting spot for all the competitors at the Pokemon League.”
“Ah...” I said in a low voice. “He’s ready.”
“Yes. It will only be you and Robin competing from Pallet Town,” Prof. Oak said firmly.
My eyes bulged. “WHAT?!?!”
Prof. Oak’s cold eyes focused on mine. “Kiwi was attacked by a Raikou not too long ago. She’s in the hospital right now. Her mother is there with her. Apparently, while her back was turned as she was gazing over a cliff, a Raikou appeared and for some reason attacked her.”
I nodded and turned to June, who was preoccupied with happily petting a Plusle and Minun. “I know. I was there with June.”
Prof. Oak and Prof. Sketchit gasped. “You saw the attack?” Prof. Oak asked.
“No. We got there after. She was hanging off the cliff, and we pulled her up. Raikou came back and attacked again, paralyzing her. How is she?”
Prof. Oak shook his head slowly. “She’ll live, for sure. But she’s still paralyzed. It’s not looking like she’ll be walking again, but we are still holding out hope. What we do know for sure is that she will not be competing in this upcoming Pokemon League. That also isn’t our main concern right now. Her health is.”
“Does Robin know?” I asked.
Prof. Oak nodded. “He was devastated, but he’s a strong boy. He’ll be alright.”
I couldn’t believe my ears.
Kiwi was still paralyzed, but she was alive at least.
It was just going to be me and Robin representing Pallet Town in the Pokemon League.
All of the promises between me, Robin, Kiwi, and Aly, were slowly falling apart right before my eyes.
A loud noise made us all turn around. A herd of Tauros were stampeding, aiming for June!
June’s back was turned, gazing in front of her.
“JUNE!” I screamed.
They’d reach her in no time at all. It was already too late!
June calmly turned around and saw the Tauros. She raised her hands to the side of her face and gazed at the herd with love. At the last moment, she stepped back and watched the herd run by her, the wind from their speed hitting her and blowing her hair around her face.
Me, Prof. Oak, Charizard, and Prof. Sketchit all looked at her in shock as the Tauros ran past.
June caught our gaze and happily skipped over to us. “Prof. Oak, this is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever seen!” June gushed. “I can’t believe you take care of all of these Pokemon here with Prof. Sketchit!” She gazed at Prof. Oak’s assistant adoringly, causing him to flinch, and then she looked back at Prof. Oak. “I admire you more than I ever did in my life, today. I didn’t think I’d ever get to meet you in person. Having this chance to do so is like, the fulfillment of my entire life! I could die happy, right this second, sir. Thank you for this feeling within me.”
Prof. Oak smiled. “Thank you very much, June.” He looked up into the sky. “Knowing that my life’s work has brought such pleasure to people like you is an added bonus that spurs me on to continue to work as a Pokemon Researcher.” He gazed back down at June. “I thank you, June, for making this such the pleasure that it is.”
“Oh, sir,” June blushed, looking down.
Prof. Oak turned to me. “By the way, Gary, what brings you here? The last I heard, you were on your way to Pewter City to get your final Badge, correct?”
“And...?” Prof. Oak said, his smile broadening.
“Pewter City?” Prof. Sketchit asked, stunned. “You mean, you battled Aurora?”
“Congratulations, my boy!” Prof. Oak approved.
“No way!” Prof. Sketchit stepped urgently in front of Prof. Oak, grabbing my shoulders. “I must see that Badge! Aurora hasn’t lost a match in years! I have to see that Badge!” He shook me roughly.
“Okay, Prof. Sketchit! Take it easy!” I grabbed his arms, pushing him away from me.
Prof. Sketchit looked at me with a scary, determined look on his face.
Prof. Oak looked at me expectantly.
Charizard grunted, watching me.
June smiled and stared as I pulled my Badge case out, opened it, and held it out to them.
Prof. Sketchit gasped loudly and immediately pulled out the Boulder Badge. “I can’t believe it!! Gary beat Aurora!! This is completely unfathomable! This is unbelievable!”
I smiled at Prof. Sketchit’s excitement, but my smile faded when I saw that Prof. Oak was still looking at my Badge case.
He seemed to be glaring at something inside of it.
I looked down at my seven Badges.
Shane’s battle with me ended up with Charmander versus Misdreavus.
“Payback!” Shane called.
My teeth gritted in anger as Misdreavus charged right for Charmander and took him down. “Charmander, get up!” I yelled.
Charmander stood back up, groaning, and gave his head a quick shake.
“Confuse Ray!” Shane ordered.
Charmander began swaying back and forth in Confusion and ran forward with a Scratch attack… in the opposite direction Misdreavus was in! He ran right into a wall and stumbled back, crying out.
“Charmander, focus! Please!” I pleaded.
Shane laughed. “Misdreavus, Hex!”
Misdreavus’ eyes began to glow red and Charmander’s body was stopped just a couple of inches away from me, covered in a dark shade of color, and it was lifted high into the air, stopping at my height.
Charmander struggled and whined, trying to break free, but he flew past me and hit the wall, sliding down immediately to the floor. Accepting defeat, the moment I wrapped my arms around his worn out body, he exploded in a flash of light! He was growing! Evolving! His silhouette, all white, showed his claws growing larger, his tail lengthening, and the shape of his head changing. Finally, it was over and I could see my new Pokemon.
“So, your Blaze ability is on,” I said. “Fire Fang!”
Charmeleon shouted, leaping at Misdreavus as his fangs became covered in flames and he took a huge bite at Misdreavus. He leaped off of Misdreavus and spit a stream of flames into the air. The fire soon formed a huge ball, which immediately exploded and sent waves of flames down on Misdreavus.
My battle with June ended up between Electrode and Primeape.
Beedrill’s Toxic Spikes from his battle in the beginning of the match were still Poisoning any Pokemon who entered the battle on June’s end of the field.
The second Electrode landed, the Poison set in and triggered its Explosion.
My battle with Vincent was down to Hoothoot and Vileplume.
“Silence that fowl!” Vincent screamed. “Sleep Powder!”
Hoothoot’s Air Slash blew away the Sleep Powder and weakened Vileplume.
I noticed another new move from Hoothoot. “Zen Headbutt!”
Kadabra and Haunter battled to the death in Sabrina’s gym. Haunter used Shadow Ball multiple times as Kadabra bat them away with his spoon and back at Haunter as their deceased Trainer, Sabrina, watched on, possessed by the Haunter.
Kadabra used Psycho Cut repeatedly, beating Haunter to submission, and then one final Psychic type attack to Haunter had ended the battle for good, killing Haunter.
But Haunter’s Destiny Bond dragged Kadabra with him, killing Kadabra as well.
Sabrina’s body reached up and tried to attack me, but Kadabra used a Psychic attack to destroy her body for good. Before dying, Kadabra dropped the Marsh Badge into my hand.
The battle between Ozne and I was boiled down to Tentacruel and Weepinbell. After a flurry of attacks, they wrapped each other until one dropped, my Weepinbell being the victor.
Against Cleopatra, it was Charmeleon and Tyranitar.
“And now, it ends.” Cleopatra’s unforgettable eyes were focused on mine. She then sneered at Charmeleon. “Earthquake.”
Tyranitar stomped the ground and knocked Charmeleon onto his back.
“Rock Slide,” Cleopatra said. “Earthquake!”
Charmeleon crouched down, growling, and then leaped into the air in an attempt to dodge the Earthquake.
My eyes were forced closed as a bright light erupted from Charmeleon’s body, blinding me, filling the Gym. The light finally faded and I collapsed in amazement as I stared at a new Pokemon.
With a tremendous roar, the dragon twisted his body and swung at the boulders that were inches away from colliding with him with one enormous wing and caught them all! With a hard spin, Charizard tossed them right at Tyranitar! Charizard raised a claw in the air and it glowed white. He flew quickly to meet up with Tyranitar, who ran at him just as eagerly.
The two neared each other.
Charizard swung his Fighting type move into Tyranitar’s jaws.
Tyranitar was flung back and crashed through the Gym floor, shaking the place.
My battle against Gale pit Bug against Bug.
Butterfree versus Mothim.
“Butterfree, Gust attack!!”
“Use Air Slash!”
“Use Psybeam!” I told my Pokemon.
Butterfree’s Psybeam missed as Mothim flew right above the attack easily.
“Now use your Psybeam!” Gale smiled.
Butterfree tried to dodge Mothim’s muticolored Psybeam attack, but Mothim’s move caught one of Butterfree’s wings.
Butterfree’s Tailwind attack swept her into the air at an intense, blinding speed!
“Butterfree, use Sleep Powder!”
Butterfree was forced forward by the wind and zoomed over Mothim, blue powder falling from her wings, swirled around rapidly by her wind.“Gust!” I commanded.
Butterfree quickly flapped her wings and created a second large gust of wind, sweeping Mothim back up into the air as he tumbled helplessly, still Sleeping.
“Butterfree, Tackle it out!”
Mothim tumbled through the air from the hit and slammed onto the top of the mountain, snoring.
Me and Aurora.
Kingdra versus Kabutops.
Kabutops ran forward and swiped at Kingdra.
Kingdra vanished into thin air! She reappeared in a new spot and kept vanishing and appearing again all over the place!
Kabutops blocked Kingdra’s Hydro Pump and slashed at her.
The blood splattered the floor immediately.
Kingdra hunched over as blood rapidly slid down her back, spilling to the floor.
“I’m on my way to being a Pokemon Master.” I told Aurora as I pointed at her sharply. “You’re on my path, and I’m not letting you block me any further!”
“Then defeat me for a change!” Aurora snarled.
“Ice Beam, now! Aim for the scythes!”
Kabutops’ scythe swung down.
With a loud cry, Kingdra used Ice Beam at one of the scythes, surrounding it in ice.
Kabutops’ scythe was now frozen in ice!
Kingdra used Ice Beam on the other scythe.
The Ice Beam had formed around the scythes perfectly. Now, Kabutops’ scythes were sharper than ever, and coated in cold ice!
“What have I done?” I whispered, swaying in place.
It slashed again at Kingdra, cutting into her face, blood splashing everywhere.
“FIIIIIGHT!!” June insisted. “You had it! You were right there!!”
One of Kabutops’ scythes were hit with Ice Beam again, the ice forming around the scythe becoming thicker, heavier, and less detailed. Soon, the ice around the scythe was no longer sharp. Kabutops’ scythes crashed to the ground heavily, a large square block of ice around each of them!
“HYDRO PUMP!” I screamed.
“DOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” Kingdra blasted Kabutops off of its feet and out of the field!
Kabutops slammed into the wall behind Aurora. As it hit, its ice covered scythes lifted up quickly, slammed into its own face, and the ice around them smashed. Kabutops slumped against the wall and didn’t move.
As the memories flooded from my mind of my eight Badges and the battles I went through to earn them, I could feel my heart beating with excitement over the hard work me and my Pokemon went through. We overcame our disadvantages, did the impossible, and came out on top. Together. As a team.
“Where did you get this Badge case from, Gary?” Prof. Oak’s voice broke into my thoughts.
I shook my head and stared at him, surprised to see that he was still staring at my Badge case. “Shane gave it to me.”
Prof. Oak didn’t take his eyes off of my Badge case. “Shane, the Obsidian City Gym Leader?”
“Yeah...” I answered hesitantly.
Prof. Oak reached out and pulled a Badge from my case. He held up the Dimensia Badge in the air, twirling it around in his hand, the stunning Badge looking like glass that held swirling smoke inside, though it was just an illusion from a fantastic piece of work.
Everybody who sees that Badge is always so captivated by it, I thought, smiling.
Prof. Sketchit was still looking at the Boulder Badge, but once he glanced over at the Dimensia Badge, he couldn’t take his eyes off of it, squinting hard.
June had her eyes glued to it now, her mouth hanging open in shock.
This is getting a little bit odd, now, I thought, staring at the three of them.Even Charizard was eyeing it suspiciously, sniffing the air.
“This isn’t the Badge from the Obsidian City Gym, Gary,” Prof. Oak spoke seriously.
My heart dropped. “What?!” I asked fearfully.
June’s eyes suddenly widened and her face turned extremely pale. It was as if she were seeing a ghost. “HEY!” June screamed, and pointed at the Badge.
The Badge suddenly started to glow a black and purple color. Prof. Oak let go of the Badge, but it didn’t drop to the ground. It was now hovering in the air! Black smoke surrounded the Badge from out of nowhere, and in the very next second, right before our eyes, the Badge instantly turned into a...
“Ga-Ga-Ga-Ga-Ga-Ga-Gaaaaaaaaastlyyyyyy!!!” Gastly laughed hysterically, twirling high in the air, a dark, gassy trail forming behind it. In a matter of seconds, the Ghost Pokemon disappeared, its laughter still heard echoing for a few more seconds.
June, Charizard, Prof. Sketchit, Prof. Oak, and I stared, dumbfounded, into the sky after Gastly.
“Your Badge...” June whispered shakily. “Was a trick...”