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A Lesson Learned (one-shot for Serebii Yuletide 2017; G)


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"A Lesson Learned"
A one-shot for Serebii Yuletide 2017
by AmericanPi for xEryChan

This one-shot was written for xEryChan for the 2017 Serebii Yuletide. Her prompts called for either a shipping fic based on the song "Over and Over Again" by Nathan Sykes or a genfic based on the song "Good Things Come To Those Who Wait", also by Nathan Sykes. Since she listed Nate as her favorite character and Generation 5 as her favorite Generation, I decided to write a Nate-centric fic.

I really wanted to keep with my Serebii Yuletide tradition and tackle both prompts at once, but I couldn't figure out how to make that work so I decided to just write the genfic. It worked out pretty well for me, though, because thanks to the Platonic contest I'd been itching to write a one-shot based on familial relationships for a while now (I wrote a one-shot based on a friendship a while back). So in the end I wrote a family-based genfic one-shot based on the "Good Things Come To Those Who Wait" prompt.

In this fic, I took some creative liberties with the storyline of BW2. Namely, Nate's mother has a bigger role, and Team Plasma isn't as much of a threat as it is in-game. Enjoy!

Nate groaned. His mother was calling him again, and at the worst time too. Here he was, training in Chargestone Cave - well, technically he was lost, but he was going to use this opportunity to make his Pokemon stronger - and now Mom was going to make him take time off his quest to become Unova Champion. Who knew that the Xtransceiver had reception deep inside a cave?

Nate considered just hanging up, but he hadn't answered her the last four times. The last time she called was just thirty minutes ago, but the time before that was back at Nimbasa City.

I might as well tell her I'm busy, Nate thought as he sat down on a rock and picked up his Xtransceiver and his mother's face appeared on the screen.

"Seriously, Mom?" Nate grumbled. "I'm training. If you have to say something, make it quick."

Nate's mother smiled. "You always seem to be busy with something when I call you," she commented.

"Well duh, I want to become Champion," Nate said. "What's up?"

"Nate, I was wondering, would you be interested in a vacation?" Nate's mother asked excitedly. "Pokations is having an Alolan promotion, and I've always wanted to visit there."

Nate put his hand to his face. "You're kidding, right?" he groaned. "I'm on a quest to become Champion and you're asking me to take a break from it in favor of spending time on some little islands that don't even have a League? Forget it."

"I'm just saying that you could use a break," Nate's mother said patiently. "You haven't been home ever since you started your journey, and every time I call you you either don't answer or hang up on me because you're in the middle of something. A change of environment would be nice for you."

"I need to focus on getting to Mistralton and getting my next Badge," Nate countered. "I don't have time for a vacation."

His mother's face fell. "Do you have time for me?" she asked.

"Sorry, I don't," Nate said tersely. "I want to become Unova Champion and I need to train. Bye Mom."

Nate hung up with a huff and pulled out Pignite's Poke Ball. He got up and kept walking.

I hope I'll find an exit soon, he thought. A Joltik scuttled into his path from behind a rock.

Or not, Nate thought. I'll just train more, I guess.

"Come on, Pignite," Nate said as he tossed his starter's Poke Ball into the air. "Let's get this over with."

Nate didn't bother with enjoying the sights of Mistralton City. He spotted a big sign pointing towards the Mistralton Pokemon Center and quickly followed it.

Thank Arceus I'm finally out of that cave, Nate thought as he made a beeline for the building. It took a few days, but I made it.

He could see the Pokemon Center's red roof in the distance and ran towards it, nearly running into a small girl as he thought about his Pokemon. Sure, his Gothita had evolved into Gothorita thanks to the training in Chargestone Cave, and his other Pokemon were much stronger now as well, but his entire team had taken quite the beating thanks to the intense training they were put through.

Nate looked around as he approached the Mistralton Pokemon Center, hoping that there weren't any serious cases coming through that would slow him down. Upon seeing that the coast was clear, he smiled and entered the building. He made his way to the receptionist's counter and asked to rest his full team of six Pokemon. The receptionist took the Poke Balls, placed them onto a healing machine, and asked Nate to wait.

Nate nodded, but huffed as he walked towards the waiting area for Trainers who were resting their Pokemon. Waiting was not one of his strong suits. He wanted his Pokemon to heal quickly so he could take on the Mistralton Gym, but even someone like him knew better than to rush into battle with a team that wasn't fully rested.

Nate stopped short as he entered the waiting room and saw who was sitting at one of the tables. It was his mother, who had seen him walk into the room and was now waving him over.


"Hi Nate!" his mother was calling. "Do you want to sit with me?"

"Uh…" Nate said, looking around. He really didn't want to talk to his mother, but what else was there to do as he waited for his Pokemon to be healed? He couldn't just say no, especially after the way he had brushed his mother off in Chargestone Cave. Nate hated to admit it, but he knew he hadn't treated his mother well back then. Besides, if his mother was personally visiting him, the situation had to be serious.

"Coming, Mom," Nate sighed, forcing a smile onto his face as he made his way over to his mother and sat down across from her. "I wish I didn't have to wait so long. I want to get my next badge."

"Nate, thank you for deciding to stay," his mother said, smiling sadly. "This is the first time I've seen you in person since you left home, you know."

"Yeah, but that's because I've been busy training and collecting badges," Nate said, shifting uncomfortably. "I can't just stop what I'm doing."

"I understand," Nate's mother said patiently, "but I'm concerned about you, honey."

Nate crossed his arms. "Why?" he asked defensively. "I'm doing great on my journey. I've gotten five badges with three to go."

"That's great," his mother said, smiling. "But… I feel hurt when you end our conversations abruptly and say you don't have time for me. I understand you not wanting to go to Alola, but I don't understand why you've been treating me this way."

Guilt clawed at Nate's heart as he opened his mouth to say something, but then closed it.

"Were you going to say something, Nate?" Nate's mother asked gently.

"I was going to say that I don't have time," Nate muttered, "and it sounds awful, but it's true. I need to focus on becoming Unova Champion."

Silence hung in the air between mother and son. Then Nate's mother sighed.

"Nate, honey," his mother said, "The Championship isn't going anywhere."

Nate pursed his lips as his mother's words sank in. The Championship isn't going anywhere.

He put his head in his hands as embarrassment crashed over him.

"Oh man," Nate groaned. He looked up, expecting to see his mother's reproachful face, but she was wearing an understanding smile.

"Mom, you're right," Nate said. He stood up from his seat and gave his mother a big hug, which she returned.

"I'm so sorry," Nate said earnestly, tears forming in his eyes. He quickly stepped back and wiped them away. "I'm sorry for how I've pushed you away these past few months. I should have taken some time to visit, because you're right, the Championship really isn't going anywhere and I have a lot more time than I thought to become Champion."

"Oh, Nate, thank you," Nate's mother said, squeezing his hand gently. "Nothing's stopping you from taking a break. Just a little one, to spend time with people you care about. You know what they say. Good things come to those who wait. So why not wait a while - take a break from working so hard - and see what happens?"

"Yeah, I think I'll do just that," Nate said, smiling. "Thank you for helping me realize that I shouldn't push myself too hard."

"No problem, honey," Nate's mother said warmly, smiling back. "Once your Pokemon are healed, do you want to come home with me?"

"Yes!" Nate exclaimed. "Are you still looking at that Alola vacation? I can help you plan it once we're home, and then we can spend a few weeks there. It'll be a great break for me, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it too."

"This is great, Nate," his mother said. "Of course I'm still looking at that vacation, and I'd be thrilled to spend some time in Alola with you. Thanks so much."

"No, thank you," Nate said happily. "Thank you for a lesson learned."

I think I'm programmed to automatically like any story focused on BW, so I was excited to see this was about Nate's journey. You do a good job of hinting at kind of the everyday life of a trainer with Nate getting lost in the cave and how he constantly has his eyes ahead. I also like that the journey is filtered through the tunnel vision of a protagonist, who never really stops to smell the sparkly rocks because there's another town, another gym, another challenge on the horizon.

I do think you missed the mark on characterization though. Nate comes off as pretty bratty, while his mom seems weirdly involved for someone who presumably knew a trainer journey would involve exactly this. The result is that neither of them are very likable, which hey, I love characters with questionable behavior, but I'm not sure if that's what you were going for. It also makes the emotional turn at the end feel a little sudden. There hasn't really been much indication that Nate feels much guilt until he's talking to his mom in person, and what's most likely genuine concern on her part has up to this point been a little whiny since most of her concerns have been that Nate is doing what most other trainers do when they go on a journey. I think just a few more shades of characterization could help a lot. Stuff about how Nate and his mom used to be so close, how Nate is going way too hard to sustain what he's doing, how he's looking more tired every time she talks to him, really just anything that would make her concern seem more justified and his eventual revelation seem more logical.

But this was still a nice mother-son story. Just a little more room to breathe and take in the situation and characters would really elevate it, though, I think.
[Imaginative]:[Clockwork];18514030 said:
I think I'm programmed to automatically like any story focused on BW
Same tbh.

I thought this was a cute little story, working on that always interesting but somehow never-fully-addressed in-game dynamic between an ambitious trainer aiming for the League and the mother he left behind. It’s a good premise, and I think you work with it rather well overall.

But one other thing I agreed with [Imaginative]:[Clockwork] on is how you handle the conflict and the resolution. I really like the quote, “The Championship isn’t going anywhere,” as it’s a very powerful line and I think it really would give trainers like Nate a new perspective, but the lines that follow after sees Nate already admitting his wrongdoings and saying sorry. I was hoping for something more from Nate’s laser-focused determination and his mother’s unease with her son before coming to this realization. And while it’s mentioned that Nate has been ignoring his mother because of this for quite some time now, I didn’t really get the sense that this was actually happening because of how quickly he realized his mistakes and how quickly he resolved everything with his mother.

Also, I think you can improve the dialogue at the end a bit, especially Nate’s after realizing his actions. The way he talks at that point sounds very similar to how his mother talks, and while that can be because they’re finally on the same page after a long while, I think some of his personality that was pretty clear at the beginning was lost by the end because of this.

So yeah, I like the dynamic you’re working with, but I think you can improve how you present it so that the resolution feels more impactful. Good job with the story! :)


Winter can't come soon enough
I think this is my first thing I've read focusing on Nate/Rosa (and also the first thing you've written, but I gotta diversify, dang it). So, let me start by saying I'm only vaguely familiar with Nate from Pokéspecial (super-serious secret agent type), which is a bad frame of reference. I can't give you any feedback on how Nate's characterized, other than to say it's very... familiar. Especially when you start it off on such a relatable note. I mean, it's probably bad of me to say this, but I know as a teen I would use every excuse under the sun to avoid having to spend time with my mom. Basically, it's relatable, even if Nate's spending time with magical creatures that we'll never have here. It gets better when he finds his mom at the Pokémon Center. That forced smile bit was soooo familiar to me. This conversation went a lot differently, to be sure. Mine usuall end with arguments and a begrudging acceptance from one side or the other. Which I guess is the strange part for me, personally. If he's being the rebellious teen type, I'd have expected him to come to that realization and then have some terse replies or something. Not go into full-fledged "I'm sorry, forgive me!" mode. I thought it was heartwarming as you wrote it, though. And I know you were using a song as a frame of reference, so that might've effected the resolution bit. Very cute to read!