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24 Months [one-shot]

Discussion in 'Completed Fics' started by Dramatic Melody, Jun 11, 2015.

  1. I've been writing this one-shot on and off since last year, and I shelved it a few months into writing it because I didn't think I would be able to deliver the kind of story I wanted it to be. But after reading [Imaginative]:[Clockwork]'s "A Hundred Tries" and churning out particular entries in Humans of Hoenn that relate with the theme, I got inspired to revisit the one-shot and shorten it to what you see here [shorten in the sense that, well, its working title was "36 Months"].

    I mention "A Hundred Tries" because the subject of that one-shot is sort-of the same as the one I explore here—positioning Hilbert/Hilda in the years between BW and B2W2. When I first played the latter, I was particularly surprised at the dialogue we get from Hilbert's/Hilda's mom when we, as Nate/Rosa, visit her in the post-game. We get this sense that she's been waiting for her child to come home for a while now, to the point that she mistakes Nate/Rosa as them. I found it amusing but very sad, and I thought, hey, there has to be a story in there somewhere. And this was the result.

    I do hope you enjoy "24 Months". If you have any comments or criticism, don't hesitate to leave a reply. :)

    24 Months

    "Mom, I'm gonna go look for him."

    She noticed how his voice exuded an overwhelming amount of confidence. It demanded more attention than she thought it would, something she could only attribute to him having been Champion for a year and a half. What made her worried was the determination in his eyes, telling her that his decision was unshakable—nothing in her power could convince him otherwise.

    She defaulted to the only reply she knew would satisfy him. "Whatever you think is for the best, honey."

    1 month later

    She turned the mug upside down and watched its contents seep through the sink's drain. She opened the faucet and watched the water mix with the chocolate, the marshmallows turning into small soggy sponges. After putting the mug in the middle of the flowing water, she soaped and rinsed it thoroughly, making sure there was no trace of chocolate left. When she was satisfied, she dried it off with a clean towel and stored it in the counter.

    She then sat down in front of the window and, while watching the village be covered in snow, gripped her own mug of hot chocolate and finished it as slowly as possible.

    2 months later

    Pairs of amazed eyes gazed at her as she stood in front of that spring's batch of beginning trainers. Their mouths were agape, their eyebrows raised, and their hands tightly clutched their newly received Poké Balls. She stood with the intention of looking humble so as not to intimidate them with whatever intimidation a Champion's mother possesses. Beside her, Professor Juniper spoke a few concluding words to them and asked her for any final tips.

    "Stay safe," she said in an almost rehearsed tone, "and call back home as often as possible."

    3 months later

    There was a small get-together at Cheren's house to celebrate his new job as the Aspertia City Gym Leader. He was going to move out by the end of the month, and his parents had made sure to give him a fitting going away party to celebrate.

    She had wanted to leave early, but she ended up staying the latest because of all the questions she received about her son. She politely told everyone that he was doing fine, that he called almost every night, and that he would come home within the next couple of weeks, playing an unacknowledged game of two truths, one lie.

    Before leaving, she wished Cheren and his parents good luck and gave Cheren a long hug. She whispered to his ear, "Give this to Hilbert if you bump into him, okay?"

    4 months later

    She noticed that there were more leaves than usual to rake this time around. It usually only took her an afternoon, but she was only halfway done when she saw stars appear in the sky.

    She mulled over the possibilities. Was this a sign that there were more trees growing around the town, or was this a sign that the trees were shedding more leaves at a faster pace than usual? Was her raking getting slower, or did the sun set earlier this particular autumn day?

    She then remembered that she had one less pair of hands to help her this time around. She hastened her pace and tried to think about something else, only succeeding in the former.

    5 months later

    She offered Bianca a mug of hot chocolate, which the young trainer humbly accepted. The professor's assistant had just come home from a year-long trip with Cedric Juniper, where she visited professors in other regions. Nevertheless, she was assigned to go to Aspertia City the day after to deliver a starter to a beginning trainer, who happened to be the son of one of her childhood friends. She had given Bianca a letter to give to her friend, which contained her thoughts of meeting up and sentiments of soon being in the same page as mothers of distant children.

    "I'm excited to see Cheren again," Bianca told her. "It's been two whole years since we last saw each other. I wonder how he's doing?"

    Her weak smile grew weaker as she listened to Bianca's musings.

    6 months later

    "I haven't had luck here in Kanto. If I don’t find him by next week, I'll head to Johto and try my luck there."

    "Will you be all right? Where will you be staying? Do you still have enough money? I can send you some if you'd like."

    "I still have enough money, and if ever I'd need some, I could always just withdraw. And I usually stay in the Pokémon Centers, but if I don't, I just camp out in routes like I used to. You don't have to worry, Mom. It's not like I haven't done this before."

    "I know, I know, but if ever your journey gets too tiring, don't hesitate to head back home—"

    "Oh, sorry Mom, gotta go. I'm about to go through this cave called Mt. Moon, and the signal's gonna be cut off. Talk to you soon. Love you."

    "I love you too," she said to the Xtransceiver's dial tone. "Stay safe."

    7 months later

    "There, that should do it."

    She spent almost the entire day rearranging furniture in Hilbert's bedroom, being discouraged by the summer heat to go outside. What started out as her daily cleaning ended up with her thinking of a better setup for the room. She thought the TV set would be better if it wasn't in front of the stairs, and the bed would make more sense facing the TV. She then decided to put the computer table next to the bookcase, serving as a "study corner" of sorts.

    "I hope Hilbert doesn't mind the changes," she said when she had finished.

    She spent the rest of the next day putting everything back to their original places. She took even more time doing so.

    8 months later

    "Alice? Oh my gosh! It's been so long! How are you?"

    "Hi, Jess. I'm doing okay. You still working for Pokémon Centers?"

    "Oh, not anymore. Ever since Nate left for his journey, I had to look for a job that would keep me in Aspertia. Now I teach kindergarteners in the Trainers' School."

    "That's good to hear. Speaking of which, have you heard from Nate yet?"

    "Yeah! He calls every day, asking me about the cities and routes he's in and telling me about his latest gym battles. With the amount of times he's called, it doesn't feel like he's gone at all! Oh, how about you, Mrs. Champion's mom? I heard from Bianca that Hilbert's gone off to another journey. How is he?"

    "…Uhh, great. He's doing great."

    9 months later

    He looked like a mess when he entered the door and announced that he was home. His clothes were torn and tattered, his eyes were underlined with huge arches, and his hair looked like he hadn't fixed it in nine months. He threw himself on the chair and put his hat over his head, lazily plopping his bag on the floor.

    She immediately made him a mug of hot chocolate, the way he liked it when it was winter. She placed his personal mug on the desk beside him and asked him with a worried tone, "Did you find your friend?"

    The dream ended before she heard his answer. Seeing the night sky outside the window, she willed herself to fall asleep again.

    10 months later

    She noticed that one of the beginning trainers had stayed behind, a twelve-year-old boy who picked Snivy. He seemed to be talking to himself while clutching the Poké Ball firmly. Seeing that Professor Juniper was busy, she approached him and asked what was wrong.

    "I don't know if I made the right choice," the boy told her. "I mean, all three of them are great, but what if Snivy isn't right for me? What if I'm actually a Tepig person or an Oshawott person?"

    "There's only one way to find out," she said. "You have to get out there and see for yourself. My son picked Snivy, too, and I know that he loves his Serperior very much. You could have the same relationship with your Snivy, or maybe one that’s even better, but you’ll have to give it a try. "

    "Thanks, Mrs. Black," the boy said, his face lighting up. "Hilbert sure is lucky to have the best mom in the world."

    She tried to make her face match his in response, but she knew she couldn't.

    11 months later

    This just in: Opelucid City has been frozen solid. Ice blasts coming from the sky struck many portions of the city, leaving many residents stranded within houses and buildings. Mayor Dresden stated in a press conference that this is the work of Team Plasma, who has not made the headlines since the incident in the Pokémon League more than two years ago.

    "Authorities have mostly stabilized the situation," reports Mayor Dresden, "with help from one of my challengers. I urge the rest of Unova to keep a watchful eye and report any sightings of rogue Team Plasma members immediately."

    Other citizens say that a huge flying ship was seen around the time of the incident and is likely the cause of the ice—

    "He's here," she said as the news report dissolved into unimportant details. "Hilbert's friend is here."

    12 months later

    "Hilbert, honey, why don't you head home now? I'm sure you've heard of the news of Team Plasma being back in Unova. Perhaps your friend is with them?"

    "I'm too far into this search to stop now, Mom. And besides, he's left Team Plasma for good. Team Plasma coming back there means he'd be as far away from Unova as possible."

    "But Hilbert, it's been a year since you started your search. What if—"

    "Oh, shoot. Just heard the final call for boarding of my plane to Kalos. I'll call you as soon as the plane lands in eighteen hours. Love you."

    "I love you too," she said to the Xtransceiver's dial tone. "Come back soon."

    13 months later

    Her smile never went away the whole time she was conversing with Hilbert over the Xtransceiver. He told her how he bought her a ribbon accessory from a clothes shop in a city called Anistar, and she could already picture Hilbert trying to put it on her hair. He told her how the same city had this amazing sundial that would glow at night, and she could imagine watching it with him someday.

    "I still haven't found him, though," he said. "I'll probably head to the western part of the region these next few weeks. I hear there's a small town there with interesting stone statues that have images of Pokémon engraved on them. My friend would probably find that interesting."

    For the first time in thirteen months, she was thankful that Hilbert wasn't there with her—at least he wouldn't see her smile abruptly fade.

    14 months later

    "It was unbelievable. Ghetsis was using Kyurem to freeze entire cities. He wasn't even giving speeches anymore—he was threatening innocent lives for no apparent reason."

    She listened to Cheren briefing all the citizens of Nuvema Town of what had happened in Northern Unova. Unlike the rest of the crowd, she wasn't looking for the validation of her safety or the confirmation of Team Plasma's defeat; she was looking for any traces of her son's friend.

    "Luckily, this incredibly talented trainer stopped him and his plans, and Ghetsis fled from his defeat. Officials have arrested all of the Neo Team Plasma members and are trying to pinpoint the location of their leader. I have to hand it to that trainer—he reminds me a lot of Hilbert."

    "But he isn't Hilbert," she said, louder than she expected. She was relieved to see that no one heard her over all the commotion.

    15 months later

    "We're sorry. The number you are trying to reach cannot be found. The Xtransciever may be damaged, or there may be a problem in the coverage area. If this problem persists, please call the C-Gear Company at 508-414-823-1129."


    "We're sorry. The number you are trying to reach cannot be found. The Xtransciever may be damaged, or there may be a problem in the coverage area. If this problem persists, please call the C-Gear Company at 508-414-823-1129."


    "We're sorry. The number you are trying to reach cannot be found. The Xtransciever may be damaged, or there may be a problem—"

    Within an hour, she had gone to the police in Striaton and filed a report of a missing person. She told them all they needed: Hilbert Black, sixteen years old, five foot five, thin build, brown spiky hair, brown eyes, last seen wearing a blue zipper jacket and a red cap, last conversation in Cyllage City in Kalos, former Champion of the Unova League.

    She asked for updates every ten minutes after that, but each update was met with the same response.

    16 months later

    She saw her face grace the screen, saying a phrase she has heard far too many times in the past few weeks. "Please, if you see my son, send word immediately."

    Her plea and her son's image stayed on the screen for thirty seconds before the channel went back to its Sunday night feature. They were interviewing two young boys who shared many similarities: both had just become champions of their respective Leagues, and both had just saved their region from the wrath of a villainous team. She didn't recognize the boy from Kalos, but she was surprised to find the boy from Unova was none other than the son of her friend in Aspertia.

    "At least Jess would always know where her son is," she said to the screen. "Lucky her."

    17 months later

    "Are you sure you don't want to come?"

    Professor Juniper offered her a mug of hot chocolate, which she silently rejected along with the invitation. They were celebrating Bianca's birthday, and her family had invited everyone. Even Cheren had arrived, and he brought along other gym leaders like Elesa and Burgh. There were only two invitees who hadn't showed up, and one of them didn't know where the other one was.

    "Yes, it's fine," she told the professor. "You go and have fun. Don't let me bring the mood down."

    "All right. I won't force you, Alice," Professor Juniper said, "but if you change your mind, you're always welcome to attend."

    When Professor Juniper left, she got the mug of hot chocolate and poured the contents down the sink's drain. After rinsing it thoroughly, she put Hilbert's mug back in the cupboard and went to bed, gripping her Xtransciever tightly.

    18 months later

    She chose not to speak in front of the beginning trainers this time around. She didn't feel that she had anything encouraging to say to them. In fact, she thought it was for the better that she didn't speak, for they might not want to go on their journeys if she told them about Hilbert.

    Outside, she saw the young trainers burst out of Professor Juniper's lab, signaling the start of their journeys. She saw two young boys already battling, the one with the Snivy overpowering the one with the Tepig despite the type advantage. She saw another young boy put on a new pair of running shoes, his mom hugging the shoebox right behind him and wiping tears off her face. She saw a trio of trainers, two boys and one girl, hold hands, breathe in heavily, and take their first step in Route 1—

    She closed her blinds and forced herself out of the window. She called the police for updates and was met with the answer she expected.

    19 months later

    She rarely watched the news nowadays. She couldn't bear seeing the other 3,570 seconds not contain her plea for finding Hilbert. Besides, all of the reports seemed monotonous at this point—the sightings of Team Rocket members in Johto were still frequent, the closure of the Game Corner in Sinnoh was still unexplained, the small town in Kalos was still in shambles from Team Flare's doing, Silph Co. in Kanto was still getting richer, and Wallace in Hoenn was still making controversial headlines with his raunchy outfits. Her own Unova was not spared from the monotony—nothing after the proclamation of a new League Champion a few months ago seemed interesting to her.

    She spent most of her days in Hilbert's room, cleaning and recleaning every nook and cranny she saw. Her left hand never let go of her Xtransciever, and not a second passed before any call it received was answered.

    20 months later

    "Alice, we're all worried about you."

    She was watching TV when Professor Juniper came in, though she didn't know what she had been watching. All that mattered was that the house needed to be filled with noise and conversation, and she knew she couldn't do that alone.

    "Alice, we know it's hard, and we're sorry that nothing's come up in the past five months. But you can't let this stop you from going about your daily life. Why don't you come with me and Bianca in our trip to Aspertia tomorrow? You could catch up with your friend there."

    She let Professor Juniper's invitation settle in her mind, and for a moment she considered accepting it. It would be a nice change of pace, she thought, and it would do her good to get some sunshine.

    But then she thought of the time that would be wasted. Why should she be spending time with her friends if she could spend time looking for Hilbert? Why should she go to Aspertia if she should be thinking about going to Kalos? Why should she leave the house if Hilbert could arrive at any minute?

    She bade goodbye to the professor and her assistant the day after, telling them to say hi to her friend for her.

    21 months later

    "Hey, Mom. I know it's late and you're asleep, but I just got the Cyllage City badge! Grant was really difficult, but Serperior really pulled his weight. Shame I won't have time to participate in the League, but the Gym Leaders so far sure pack a punch! Call me when you wake up, all right? Love you."


    "Hey, Mom. Sorry it took me so long to call again. Going through that cave took me longer than I thought. The view of the beach is really pretty, though, and the sunset is just as beautiful as the one in Route 1. I know you're asleep by now, so call me when you wake up, all right? Love you."


    "Hey, Mom. The flight was a bit delayed, but I finally arrived at Kalos. I know it's midnight there, so I'm sorry for not calling you before you slept. But let me tell you, Mom, Lumiose City is huge! It's like three Castelia Cities rolled up into one megacity. There's so much more I wanna talk about, but I wanna tell it to you in person. Call me when you wake up, all right? Love you."

    22 months later

    "Hello? Is anyone there?"

    She was watching TV when she heard him. She knew there was a reason that her plea wasn't being broadcasted in the news anymore. She knew seven months of silence was too long. She knew that she would tell him to replace his broken Xtransciever right away, so as something like this wouldn't happen again.

    "Welcome home, dear. Did you find the friend you were looking for? Wasn't his name something like N?"

    She turned around and saw the wrong Champion. He looked a lot like Jess and a lot unlike Hilbert.

    "Huh...? Excuse me!" she stuttered with a smile. "How embarrassing! Mistaking a visitor for my own child!"

    23 months later

    "All right, that's everything."

    She had packed enough for a month's worth of traveling, deciding that it would be enough for a quick search around Kalos. Nate, her friend’s son and the current Champion, had given her the idea when he dropped by a month ago. She had told him her situation, and he had given her a short but precise solution: take matters into her own hands.

    She had booked a plane to Kalos a week ago, and a cab to Mistralton a few hours after that. Her flight tomorrow morning meant she would arrive at Kalos when it was afternoon there and midnight in Unova, just like Hilbert's flight. She was more than ready to leave when a thought crept into her head.

    But what if Hilbert came back and I wasn't here?

    She tore her plane ticket and itinerary and threw them in the trash. She spent the rest of the day unpacking all of her belongings, carefully returning them to where they were stored away.

    24 months later

    When Hilbert came home, she cried.

    She cried when the police called her, telling her that they had found him in Geosenge with a broken Xtransciever. She waited in the Mistralton Airport for his flight, and when he arrived after twenty-four hours of waiting, she cried while giving him a welcome she had been bottling up for twenty-four months.

    She cried when Cheren hugged him tightly, fulfilling a promise he made twenty-one months ago. She cried when Bianca had released his Pokémon one by one, for he wasn't planning on going on any other journey soon. She cried when Serperior gave her a hug with his slippery body, and she tried her best to replicate the hugs his original trainer had given him.

    She cried when they took a walk to the Dreamyard, like what they used to do when he was still five years old. She cried when he watched him go through the piles of leaves in Route 1, just like what he did six autumns ago. She cried when she gave him a kiss at the end of the walk, something she hadn't given him in two years.

    And when everyone had left after his funeral ended, she cried some more.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2015
  2. [Imaginative]:[Clockwork]

    [Imaginative]:[Clockwork] X-treme trainer

    For all the flaws A Hundred Tries, I'm glad I wrote it if it helped you finish this. I think it's great, and I felt a whole range of emotions while reading. (Unfortunately, the only time I felt really happy was in month 22, where I fell for the misdirect despite it being the event that inspired the whole thing. ;_; ) Plus, it covers one of my favorite unexplored topics in Pokemon, which is what the mother thinks of their child leaving and essentially never coming back for anything other than a brief visit here and there.

    I think the way you divided this into months was a great way of presenting it. First of all, it really gave the impression of time passing, since you're able to watch Alice slowly become more anxious and desperate with each passing event. I think the voicemail month was the most emotional for me to read, but the raking and the dream scenes were also quietly agonizing. I feel like for most of these, the optimistic in me just made everything seem much sadder, haha. Second, the fact that the month division scenes were short allows you to cover smaller moments in Alice's life without spending too much time on any one thing. Going to Cheren's party, talking to the new trainers, and listening to Hilbert talk about his ribbon were all pretty inessential in the large scale, but a one-shot like this really depends on how much you care about the characters, and giving time to more mundane things like that really helps, I think.

    Accurately defining Alice's emotions without really stating them outright is this fic's biggest strength to me. The whole thing has kind of an emotionally dead vibe, as if there's very little hope for the best. (That didn't stop me from hoping, but again, that was a bad move on my part.) It's not any one thing, but rather the details, like her indecision to leave or to stay. Just like the fic's structure itself, a bunch of little things added up to a very strong whole, and it made the ending have all the more impact.

    I will say I'm a little confused about the timeline, though. B2W2 apparently start during month 5, and I was under the impression that the months began counting after Hilbert finished his journey and went searching for N. I'm not sure if you're trying to imply that BW's plot took a year and 7 months (which would mean that Team Plasma reformed in 5 months, which I guess is possible, but it seems a little short) or if Hilbert finished his journey and then stayed home for a while before leaving again to find N. Either one could work, but it might help to clarify. Then again, it's pretty inconsequential, so maybe I just randomly got hung up on it and it won't happen to anybody else.

    Regardless, I really liked this, and I'm glad you came back to it. It's exactly the kind of low-key, character-based story I like, and I think it hits all the right emotional beats. Plus, it deals with the BW(2) characters, who I've had a real interest in since replaying those games. Great work!
  3. "A Hundred Tries" really motivated me to get back to this, since I really like how you explored that gap between the two Unova games and Hilbert and Hilda's detachment from the rest of the world with that story. That's awesome to hear, although I do apologize for making you hope for something that didn't end too well :p And yes, the mother-player dynamic is such a loaded topic that has so much potential. I'm imagining that Red's mom would have some similar experience, what with that whole "No news is good news, right?" speech we get in the Johto games. It's just so heartbreaking.

    Thank you! I was a bit wary of how I approached Alice's "descent", since I didn't want it to feel like it's some overly dramatic display. I wanted it to be more subdued but loaded at the same time, so yeah. The voicemail month is one of my favorites, too, and that one in particular was inspired by another one-shot on here, Blackjack Gabbiani's "Answering Machine". When I read it for the first time, I was completely floored by how it was able to sustain so much emotion in so little space. I was looking for ideas at how to connect the month before it with the month inspired by the scene in the game, and when I re-read "Answering Machine", it felt like a light bulb suddenly switched on in my head.

    I was originally going to be more strict about the form by making all of the months drabbles, in that they would all have a strict 100-word count limit. But I figured it would be too limiting, so I just went with how every month would just focus on one scene and be short. I'm glad it had a good impact on you. And yeah, I feel like if I focused solely on Hilbert's absence, the overall story would get pretty tiring, so I interspersed it between the goings-on of Nuvema while still reminding the reader of his absence, just like how Alice is reminded of it in even the most unlikely situations.

    Thank you so much for saying that! It means a lot, since that whole "little parts that make a compelling whole" is what I'm really striving for with this form, and seeing it be conveyed to you makes me really happy about the project, so thanks! Also, that distant portrayal of Alice's emotions is something I'm a bit too used to at this point, and while it's been working for me so far and I feel like it's a strong way of portraying my plot, I do think that it's something I could diversify in future projects.

    Oh, oops, I do think I should have clarified that more. The start of the story with Hilbert saying that he's leaving to find N (or, well, Month 0) happens around a year and a half after he defeats Ghetsis in the Pokémon League and becomes Champion, which is what I tried to imply with the "having been a Champion for a year and a half" line. This follows through with how, a few months later, the events of BW2 begin, with Bianca going to Aspertia in Month 5, making it two years after Hilbert became Champion. So it would be the latter, in that Hilbert would've spent some time home before deciding to find N. He did have to arrest the other Sages with Looker, after all.

    Thank you so much! And I do have to say thank you for writing "A Hundred Tries", too, because it was a big reason why I took this out of the shelf. And I do agree that the Unova characters have a lot of potential in them, what with them arguably having the best plot to work with in any of the main series games. Thanks so much for the review, [Imaginative]:[Clockwork]! :D
  4. Mrs. Lovett

    Mrs. Lovett Rolling writer

    This was very beautiful and emotional. I've never played either Black/White or Black 2/White 2, but what you wrote in your author's note got me interested in reading this right away. A mother mistaking another child for hers stirs a sad feeling inside of me too, and it surprises me that the games would suddenly have this happen, when usually the in-game moms seem to take everything fine. I had to jump to Bulbapedia a few times to check who was who, but that didn't affect my read-through.

    The way you divided the span of time into twenty-four short scenes produced a numb, detached effect that reflected Alice's mood just as much as the scenes themselves. It's almost as if she spent those two years in a daze, where she got some short moments of normality here and there, but overall was so immersed in the same loops of thought that for the rest of the time there was simply nothing noteworthy for her to remember.

    For some reason, I felt a bit disoriented during the "9 months later" scene. The first time I read it, I thought that Hilbert had actually come home and that "She woke up before she heard his answer" had been your way of conveying that he kept silent about his travels until they had both gone to bed. But I read it again after finishing the next scene, and I realized that the entire part about him coming home had been a dream. :p Maybe it would be more obvious if you changed "She woke up..." to "The dream ended before she heard his answer"?

    The last line hit like a punch. First of all, because I wasn't expecting it in the slightest. and second of all, because it makes all the pieces fall together in a sad and beautiful way -- her son had been calling her after all, though she couldn't get his messages because is Xtransciever was broken, and he didn't replace it because he literally couldn't. (I'm not kidding when I say I didn't expect that -- Even when I read that the police had found him with a broken Xtransciever, I thought it meant that Hilbert had had no way of fixing it and they had forced him to come home for a little while. Then when I read that he wasn't planning on going on any more journeys in the near future, I felt all warm and happy. xP The line about Alice trying to replicate his hugs made me feel that something wasn't quite right, but the last sentence sucked all of that away and replaced it with sad realization. I guess I'm an optimist too. :p)

    Overall, this was a great read for a quiet day. You clearly put a lot of thought into this, and the result is something that'll stick in my mind for some time.

    Great job!
  5. Thank you so much! I'm glad that the author's note wasn't too rambly, and I'm really grateful for the review! And I agree - there's something tragic about how the games treat a majority of the player's mothers, and I feel like there's so much more to it than what we see. And I'm glad that the unfamiliarity of the characters didn't impede you from reading it - if anything, the most I do is refer to their in-game jobs and some dialogue, so it's great that you were able to connect the dots.

    That's a great way of putting it, and my headcanon for the other days of the month is pretty much the same. I allude to it a bit in Month 19 about how monotonous her days have become, and I feel like it could really apply to all the months here. I do want to believe that she had some normal and happier days, though I feel even those are tainted by her son's absence.

    Ah, duly noted. I agree that it could be less vague. Your suggestion's great, and I hope you don't mind if I use it. Thanks!

    Ah, while I feel great that the last line had the kind of impact that I wanted, I feel bad for making you feel bad XD The ending was, oddly enough, something I decided on halfway through writing it. I wrote the first few months without actually knowing where to take it, but when I thought about how I could integrate some of XY's plot with BW2's (since they canonically happen at the same time, multiple-dimensions theory aside :p), the whole idea of Hilbert being a part of the Geosenge event felt like a great way to give the ending more impact. I'm glad it worked, and again, I apologize for luring the optimist in you. Haha.

    It was a lot of research, yeah, and it was fun revisiting my Black 2 game because of it. There's so much plot in those games that make them such great takeoff points for fics.

    Thank you so much for the review, Mrs. Lovett! I'm glad you liked it. :D
  6. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    You know a fic might break your heart when it starts out like that. Might sound better as "I'm gonna go look for him" though.

    Interesting parent-child dynamic, here.

    Sounds like you're reciting a list - structure could have been better here. It also doesn't set much of a tone until the very end.

    A bit wordy - you could say "their mouths were agape, their eyebrows raised and hands tightly clutching..." etc.

    THAT DIALOGUE, THOUGH. Heartfelt, that.

    Guess he wouldn't like it after all. XD Or she's that shaken up over his leaving.

    Ah, now I see why you keep bringing up hot chocolate. XD

    Liked this bit in particular, especially the mother's outburst.

    you're killing me ok

    I was a little confused at the 24 months section, but the ending packed a punch and everything made sense then. Imaginative Clockwork and Mrs Lovett said anything I would already, but overall I enjoyed this and I actually wondered, "What would I do in Alice's situation?" And I think I'd be the same as her. Very emotionally detached, confused, and lost. Nicely written.
  7. Hmm, good point. I'll go edit it!

    Funnily enough, this is actually one of the lines I retained from the first drafts of this one-shot when I envisioned Hilbert acting more coldly toward Alice.

    Hmm, duly noted. I seem to have this coming up a lot in my writing, partly because some of my previous writing really aimed for the list-y feel. But yeah, thanks for pointing it out.

    This goes with the list-y feel I mention above, too. I'll edit it as well. And thanks! Glad you thought it was effective.

    I'd go with a mix of both. I was definitely implying the latter, but I have a feeling she really did have a realization of the former.

    I really wanted to abuse the whole changing seasons every month thing that Unova has, and I figured, aside from snow, I guess the best thing to associate winter with is hot chocolate. Hahaha.


    Hmm, I guess it may be a bit too vague seeing as I was saving up the big reveal for the last sentence. Glad it was all cleared up though. And I definitely would feel the same way as Alice, too, if ever something like this happened. Thanks for the review! :D
  8. katiekitten

    katiekitten The Compromise

    : D This is wonderful, DM...!

    The mother's disassociation, with brief periods where her 'old self' or a more frenetic outburst broke through, was as the others have said, lovely. I like, also, how this state of mind is evident in her from the moment her son decides to leave- the first entry, particularly the way she pieces apart her son's statement, introduces the numbed detachment that the rest of it has. It's a wonderful effect, and well crafted and carried throughout, but it's implications at the beginning evokes a dull acceptance: of her son's decision, and the ensuing repetition that promises of her experience of the last couple of years at home while her son journeyed away. Gives a little insight into the difficulties the mother has had adjusting to the empty nest from the beginning of her son's journey (unsurprisingly), and her potentially long-term depression. Which is interesting.

    As a result this line is certainly my favourite:

    The simplicity and the muted emotions it reveals... <3

    I would also say that the list-like nature of the 1st month reads wonderfully as part of the detached tone discussed above and I'm glad you didn't really touch it (did you change it? It doesn't really look so...). :x

    I really enjoyed the hot chocolate motif. You did a great job weaving that aspect in. <33

    And I can hardly express my love for the subtleties of months 11 and 12 - the edge of desperation in her certainty that the events in Opelucid city were the work of N (because then her son would have to come home), and its conveyance in her attempts to convince her son to return... it's a little heartbreaking in the best of ways.

    All I would say on the constructive front is that seeing a few variations in the numb tone beyond anxious, particularly in the earlier months, might be nice? It'd give us more of an insight into her developing state of mind: the moments that manage to break through the numbness (such as the phone calls with her son?), or conversely the moments where her son's absence comes back to hit her in full force; the attempts she may/may not be making to move on after her son's left... It's possible that she could remain at the same level of disconnect for the majority of the fic, she's certainly struggling with depression, but a bit more exploration into the fluctuations of her emotions could flesh out her character a bit more and make the ending and her turns for the worse hit that little bit harder.

    A moment where you could explore that: month 5, in the giving of hot chocolate to Bianca. It seems like a moment where yes, she is evoking the memory of her absent son and implies her continued pain on that front, but I also read it as a constructive piece of nostalgia. In that she is giving the hot chocolate to be enjoyed positively by another, rather than throwing 'his hot chocolate' away. The hot chocolate is no longer just a relic to be ritualistically destroyed n his memory, but is allowed to be utilised, consumed, put to other use. Made me think she might be starting to move on, or at least trying to. This parallels wonderfully with month 17 when such attempts are discarded: the cup and hot chocolate is hubert's, and she destroys it rather than drinks it herself. But the emotional tone doesn't really change between those moments, you know? The writing style evokes the same level of numbness seen from the beginning. Which is perfectly valid. But seeing moments where this isn't the case could be really nice.

    THAT SAID I do really like it how it is now. It works very well. <3 I love character driven stories, and you've explored your character's development psyche beautifully. All the love.
  9. katiekitten! It's been a while! How are you?

    Thank you! I did a bit of reading in trying to capture how the mother would feel since this is my first time writing with a protagonist of her age [I usually write protagonists of her son's age], so I'm glad that it paid off. It was really interesting going into it, too, since it gave me a lot to think about how the mothers were presented in the games and how most of them seem like they're enduring quite a lot from their husbands' and children's absences. I say this because one other piece of fanwork I haven't pointed out above that this takes a lot of inspiration from is Maré Odomo's Letters to an Absent Father, which is without a doubt my favorite piece of fan comic. I tried to mimic that comic's effect of sustaining so much emotion with so few panels, and, well, I'm glad that it worked out one way or another.

    And I'm glad you like that line! Granted, it was originally a precursor to a more removed Hilbert (in that he originally didn't have those Xtransciever conversations) but I felt like it was still a good line to set the mood of the story, seeing as while it's her story, it's governed by her son's actions.

    Thanks! I love using lists in my writing (I probably use it too much, but eh) since they have such a unique effect in terms of how they're read. They do tend to be wordy, though, so I try not to overdo them, but I just can't help it. Hahaha. And by change you mean edited between posting and now? If so, then nope. This is actually one of the first scenes I wrote (which isn't really that surprising), and I think it's one of the few that's been largely unchanged ever since the first draft. I thought the quietness was fitting for how I wanted to introduce the "one scene per month" concept, and it does introduce the hot chocolate, which brings me to...

    Thanks! This one I didn't intend to keep coming back to, but it felt like it was something I could use a lot after I wrote the scene of Month 1. Glad it worked out!

    Glad you enjoyed it! Those two were actually one of the few that kept on moving in terms of which months I'd place them in. I settled with putting them halfway through the story since that's when the tone changes from this passive loneliness to an active longing. And I always wondered how the mom would react when Team Plasma resurfaced, seeing as they're the very reason her son wasn't home. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't be too happy about it.

    Ah, this is very much noted. The monotony of the voice and tone I use is a consistent criticism in my works, and while I do try to solve it, I've been having a bit of a hard time doing so since I always go for the kinds of voices and tones I'm familiar with - detached, cold, held back. I do agree that presenting Alice in a different sort of atmosphere would really flesh out her character and would make the ending more impactful.

    Thank you for the comments! I definitely see how I can improve both scenes (and by extension the others) by mixing up the atmosphere set in both of them. It did have the luxury of evoking different kinds of moods and tones due to the piece being fragmented, though right now it does seem to sustain the mood throughout all 24 months. It does make her character more dynamic, so thank you for pointing me to the right direction.

    And I just have to say that I love how you interpreted the hot chocolate. It's certainly much deeper than I thought of it, and you basically put into words what I hoped it would be. :D

    Thank you so much! I've been shifting to exploring in-game NPCs in stories recently, and it's been loads of fun writing them. There's so much potential, and you could go so many ways in exploring them. Thanks for the review, katiekitten! A lot of insights and comments that are really helpful. Sending all that love back! :)
  10. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    Well, I certainly do like me a good tragedy. And this certainly fit the bill.

    Special kudos for the scene where she's replaying his old phone calls, like some desperate form of time travel. Also the fact that the last scene initially seemed optimistic. Yeah, he came back, all right. In a BAG.

    Not knowing whether someone you love is even alive, having to wait and wait and wait for the answer, is its own special hell, and I think you did a nice job with that particular subject.
  11. Thanks so much for the review, Sike Saner! Certainly didn't expect it given how long it's been, but it's very much appreciated!

    Like I say above, the voicemail month was one of those Aha! moments while I was writing this, suddenly hitting me while I was trying to think of a way to segueway into Month 22 (which features the scene where the entire story is based on). I wanted the month leading to the Alice-Nate confrontation to be quiet so it can be a contrast, but I also wanted it to be one of the more emotional ones, so I'm glad that worked well for you!

    And it's great that the mislead in the end worked well for you too. Unlike the voicemail month, it was something I was set on doing once I figured out what the ending of the story was. And heh, that's probably the last thing Alice would've liked Hilbert to come back in.

    Again, thank you for the review! I'm glad you liked the story. :)
  12. LucarioIsMegaEvolving

    LucarioIsMegaEvolving A single misplaced step

    This is so sad and heart-breaking, even though I know it was meant to be. I found it fun to gradually get more details as we went along, like who Hilbert was looking for. I've never played any of the Unova games, but you managed to portray their characters well enough that I didn't need to have played them to recognize the characters. One thing though, I'm pretty sure that N is seen in BW2, so Nate would have seen him. This is a great fic, though.
  13. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    Well this was a somber read. :( But that was what you were going for! So bravo on that front.

    I think the most interesting thing about this was that it kind of felt like a mystery to me. While I was reading, I kept trying to piece together the clues and subtle hints of what had happened and what was going on. The moment when I realized Hilbert was looking for N was a real eye-opener.

    I admit I was really confused by Month 21 at first. I thought that like... his calls weren't getting through? Or maybe that she was imagining hearing from him again? But then I realized that it had to be her re-listening to old messages, as one of the messages was from right after he got to Kalos, but we definitely heard from him before he left for Geosenge.

    And I see now why you had the climaxes of BW2 and XY happening concurrently--Nate would have seen N during the confrontation with Ghetsis. They would be conclusive proof that Hilbert could return to Unova. But by that point it was already too late. D:

    And yeah. Month 24. A real gut punch. I figured out what was going on the moment it said the police found him, but that didn't take any impact away from the final sentence.

  14. Heh, thank you! The somberness I definitely intended, but the mystery I didn't expect to be prominent until after Alice couldn't contact Hilbert. But I'm glad it made the first half appealing for you!

    Ah, I can see why it could be confusing at first! It was definitely something I wanted to put in, so I'm glad it made sense in the end!

    It's also because there was a timeline posted a while ago saying that the events of BW2 and XY happen concurrently as well - it's since been taken down, which I guess is due to the whole mutliple dimensions thing that was brought up in ORAS. But yeah, it was convenient since I could then incorporate those events to this one-shot! And oops, sorry Alice.

    Ah, interesting that you got what Month 24 was trying to do from the start since some of the previous comments said it only made sense by the end. Glad it worked out for you that way!

    Thanks for the review, Chibi! :D

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