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Brothers' Bond (PG-13)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Sid87, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. Sid87

    Sid87 I love shiny pokemon

    CHAPTER LIST (direct links)
    Chapter One
    Chapter Two
    Chapter Three
    Chapter Four
    Chapter Five
    Chapter Six
    Chapter Seven
    Chapter Eight
    Chapter Nine
    Chapter Ten
    Chapter Eleven
    Chapter Twelve
    Chapter Thirteen
    Chapter Fourteen
    Chapter Fifteen
    Chapter Sixteen
    Chapter Seventeen
    Chapter Eighteen
    Chapter Nineteen
    Chapter Twenty
    Chapter Twenty-One
    Chapter Twenty-Two

    Prologue: 15 Years Ago

    Sammy Stark stared down at the yellow-and-green orb in his hand. The boy had never held an actual pokeball before in his life, he had only seen them used by others: trainers, his dad, his brother Tommy...but never was he allowed to handle one. His father had always been adamant that Sammy would not be allowed to touch a ball until the day he was given his own and sent to catch his first pokemon. Realizing what he'd just thought, Sammy’s freckled cheeks blushed; his dad wouldn’t have approved of that, either, as dad always called them “friends”. Sammy had never previously cared when his dad told stories of acquaintances and co-workers of his who let their own kids use pokemon because dad had been trying to teach him a lesson about maturity and earning a privilege, but all Sammy ever thought about were the other kids in Goldenrod Elementary who got to go out on the weekend and play with their parents’ pokemon. Miah Vanderbelt was the one who always had a new story on Mondays about his dad’s Bellsprout. They either went to the Pokeathalon or they took a trip to Ecruteak together to look for ghosts (Miah always said that they found ghosts together, but Sammy was skeptical) or they just played in river or picked berries. So while his dad tried to impart a message of the rites of growing up, Sammy just imagined how nice it would be if he could take dad’s Sandslash out with Miah for just one weekend and help him look for ghosts.

    But that was when he was eight. Sammy was ten now, and felt like he was much more mature. Would he be able to appreciate this moment as much if he’d been allowed to play with dad’s friends when he was younger? Would the ball in his hand feel so heavy? Would his chest feel like it was about to collapse every time he breathed out? He was there in Ilex Forest about to catch his first pokemon; his first friend.

    “You can stare at it all day, Sammy. It doesn’t do any tricks until you throw it.”

    Of course Sammy hadn’t been sent into the forest by himself. Tommy had been asked by dad to help him not get lost and find a suitable friend. Sammy had not even realized he was still staring at the ball as they walked when he should have been looking towards the trees. He still couldn’t bring himself to take his eyes off of it, though. No matter what he caught today, it would always be his first ever friend. From now on, when Sammy threw this ball, something would emerge. What would it be? Sammy mentally pictured going into fifth grade this fall and showing off a fearsome Noctowl. Man, the look on Miah’s face when Sammy would jump onto Noctowl’s back and fly up to the top of Goldenrod Elementary; he could see it now! He’d be stuck standing there with his mouth open while all the kids asked Sammy if they could have the next ride. Bellsprout and those fake ghosts wouldn’t seem so special then!

    “All right, fine. I’m going back home and telling dad you went all catatonic. No friend for you.”

    “Noo!” His voice came out with much more whine than he wanted it to, so Sammy swallowed hard and regained himself. “I can do this, Tommy! Don’t tell dad I can’t!” He cursed himself mentally where he knew no one could hear and scold him; he still sounded more whiney than he wanted.

    Tommy’s arm locked around his neck, and he felt his older brother start abusing his head with noogies. This stupid buzzcut that dad made him get last week made the attack all the more painful. Noogies aside, Sammy was happy to have Tommy with him. It had been five years since Tommy was ten and allowed to catch a friend of his own, and ever since then, Tommy was the guy that Sammy aspired to be. In his first year of high school, Tommy was Trainer of the Year, beating out kids four years older than himself! Tommy was already almost six feet tall, and his styled, sandy hair would never have to be buzzed down because it always stuck up. When Tommy’s friends came over, they always talked about what girls in Goldenrod High wanted to go out with him that week, but Tommy would just laugh them off. On the weekends when they were at home playing video games while dad was at work, Sammy would ask why he didn’t just go out on a date with one of those girls instead, but Tommy’s answer was always just to laugh and say the same thing. ‘Sammy, you’d burn the house down if I wasn’t here!’.

    “Hey, look up in that tree!” The noogies had suddenly stopped, and Tommy was whispering. Sammy craned his neck in his brother’s grip and looked up at the nearest oak tree. Out on the edge of a branch was a tiny Caterpie chewing on a leaf. Even by Caterpie standards, this thing was scrawny. And yet, unlike probably everything else in the forest, it didn’t flee at all the ruckus Sammy and his brother had just made. It simply ignored them as it focused on its leaf. “I think you should catch it.”

    Sammy, now fully free of his brother’s grasp, glanced down at the ball in his hand. He was hesitant as he pictured the Noctowl in his fantasy turn into a butterfly that wouldn’t be able to bear his weight. The image of Miah shocked in silence turned to an image of him laughing like a hyena.

    “It’s a Nest Ball, Sammy. That’s why dad gave it to you to start. It’s designed to catch weaker pokemon. He wanted you to earn your first friend by proving you wouldn’t blow that ball on something too strong for you to handle.” Tommy looked back up at the Caterpie in the tree. “I’m pretty sure anyone could handle that little bug.”

    Sammy noticed the leaf that this Caterpie was eating twitch a bit at those words and couldn’t help but think it must have let out a huff. But that was impossible...right? Regardless, that’s what it came down to: all those years of lectures, and dad knew that Sammy wasn’t ever really listening. He knew Sammy wanted to fit in with everyone else, and so today was his lesson. Sammy knew he had to choose between trying--and possibly failing--to get a friend he could impress the kids at school with or getting one he could grow with. His brain flashed to the image of Miah Vanderbelt laughing at the silly, undersized bug pokemon, then to that of his dad giving him another lecture if he came home with nothing. The two options juggled in his head. Miah, dad. Dad, Miah. Without realizing he was even doing it, his arm thew the ball as if it was making his mind up for him.

    The ball split open when it got within catching distance of the tiny Caterpie and released a crackle of red energy. Caterpie dropped its leaf as its body was converted into the same energy and absorbed into the ball. As the ball started dropping to the ground, Sammy saw it struggling in the air. By the time it landed in a bed of oak leaves, the struggle was over. The Caterpie had been caught with barely any resistance. Sammy immediately regretted his action; until he was able to earn some money from dad, this would be the only pokeball he’d ever get, and he just used it to catch a Caterpie. He remembered hearing about the middle school kids who started out with some kind of insect pokemon--they were made fun of and called “Bug Catchers”. Their lockers were broken into, and the other kids put toy bug nets inside. A couple of kids who were less careful would get grabbed in the locker room after gym and have straw hats duct-taped on their heads. Was this really what Sammy had to look forward to until he could get the money to buy a better ball?

    Tommy’s outburst of laughter disrupted the thought. “Oh man, you caught a Caterpie. You’re going to be such a bug catcher!” Yes, Sammy thought, that’s apparently what I have to look forward to. “Listen,” Tommy continued, “it’s not so bad. I mean, that little guy wasn’t scared of us, so maybe he knows something we don’t know. But the only way for us to figure that out...”

    “A battle?” Sammy cried, having realized where Tommy was going. “But I just caught it! I don’t know anything about it yet!”

    “Well how do you think you get to know it? Take it out on a date?”

    “But it...”

    “I’ll go easy on you. I’ll let you make the first move, and I won’t go all-out. But come on, Sammy. You’ve got to do it eventually.”

    Sammy wanted to argue and protest, but he knew that there were moments when Tommy did not take no for an answer, and this was clearly about to be one of them. Without really wanting to, Sammy held out his Nest Ball and squeezed it gently; a splash of red energy emerged with a hum from the outlet on the front of the ball. The energy converted into a Caterpie (‘My Caterpie’, Sammy thought) as fluidly as the reverse had happened just minutes before. The Caterpie turned around to face its new trainer, tilted its head in each direction, and then crawled off towards an oak leaf lying just a few feet to its left. Caterpie continued the lunch that had just been so rudely interrupted. Sammy wanted to say something, but the words were cut off by the sound of another hum. Suddenly on the forest ground sat Tommy’s Vulpix, Vlam.

    “Vlam?” Sammy protested. “That’s not fair!”

    Tommy shrugged. “I said I wasn’t going to go all-out, don’t worry. Calm it down, kiddo.”

    Vlam was Tommy’s first friend, one that he had caught in a Dusk Ball at midnight on his tenth birthday. Dad always had more faith in Tommy than Sammy, the younger brother thought. But beyond that resentment, he realized his little Caterpie was in an impossible battle. Not only had Vlam been training with Tommy for five years, but it had a huge type advantage over bug pokemon, who hate fire.

    “I said you’d get the first shot in, so...go for it.”

    Sammy shook his head. Vlam had just played a major role in Tommy winning Goldenrod High Trainer of the Year; this was so not fair. Why couldn’t he have used something else? “Caterpie, tackle the Vulpix!” he finally ordered.

    Caterpie looked up from his leaf and tilted its neck like it had when it emerged from its Nest Ball.

    “You can have a leaf later if you want, I promise! Just...tackle that pokemon!”

    The Caterpie twisted its head to the other side, still studying Sammy.

    “Oh. Oh no. I get it.”

    “What? Get what? What do you get?”

    “Sammy, it’s not that it’s not listening to you. It just...,” Tommy stopped and chewed his lower lip, “I don’t think it knows how to tackle.”

    Sammy snapped his attention back to Caterpie so quickly, he felt a nerve pinch in his neck, but shook it off. “No, that’s not...come on! What the heck? You just...run at it and throw your body at it, bug! It’s simplest attack in the world!” The Caterpie just continued staring back at him. “Run! You’ve got, like, a dozen little legs!” The creature went back to its leaf, seemingly bored with what the boy was telling it.

    “Well, this is embarrassing.”

    Sammy wasn’t listening to Tommy. He was thinking of Miah Vanderbelt again. He was still laughing, only this time he was rolling back-and-forth on the ground in an absolute fit of laughter. In the mental picture, the tiny bug sat and ate a leaf while Miah’s friends strapped a straw hat to Sammy’s head.

    “Maybe it just needs an example? Vlam, tackle that Caterpie.”

    “No, don’t!” Sammy called out, but it was too late, Vlam was charging headlong at his Caterpie. Sammy felt like he wanted to close his eyes, but they were paralyzed open; he couldn’t look away. Vlam was about to make contact...and then it suddenly stopped and backed away. “What?” Sammy mouthed.

    “Caterpie release a terrible scent when they are scared. That’s how they keep predators away. I’m assuming it just did that and Vlam got a whiff of it. As far as attacks go, though, I’m not sure it’s optimal.”

    “So...that’s what it does? It stinks?” In his head, Miah’s friends were now beating him with plastic bug nets.

    “Seems like.”

    Sammy wanted to reply, but all that came out of his mouth was a nonsensical trail of consonants and vowels that didn’t make up so much as a single word.

    “Sorry, Sammy. Maybe this thing’s got to learn how to battle the hard way. Vlam, use your ember on it.”

    The new trainer wanted to protect his Caterpie, but his mouth and brain were still on separate pages. To his amazement, though, the Caterpie hardly seemed to need his help as it rolled nimbly to its right to avoid the spray of burning ash. Sammy regained his bearings enough to say the only thing he could think of. “String shot the Vulpix!” At the words, Caterpie pulled itself upright and spat a stream of high-speed silk that snared Vlam’s four legs, sending the tiny fox pokemon tumbling to its side.

    “That’s some good instinct!” Tommy cheered. Sammy noticed he was also clapping and nodding his head. “I thought you froze up there for a sec, but you thought of an attack pretty quickly and you used enough force in your voice to get Caterpie to listen. Very professional, kiddo.” The elder brother tilted his head down and grinned, “Still, some silly string isn’t about to beat Vlam. Vlam, can you tear that stuff?”

    Sammy tried madly to think of something else a Caterpie could do, but nothing was coming to mind. He couldn’t let Vlam just tear itself free, though. “Caterpie, keep pouring on the string shot!”

    As Vlam struggled against the silk already there, even more piled on, creating a burgeoning cocoon. Tommy was chuckling. “Not giving me a chance to catch my breath, huh? All right, little brother, let’s put an end to this silliness. Vlam, use ember to burn away the string shot.” Vlam turned her head down to her paws and legs that were now coated in fine Caterpie silk. More burning ash erupted from its mouth. Sammy felt a lump catch in his throat that he couldn’t swallow away as the ash effortlessly disintegrated the string. But then something strange happened: Vlam cried out in agony!

    “Vlam! Are you okay? Return!” Tommy held out his Dusk Ball and squeezed it twice. Vlam ceased struggling against the silk as it transformed into its energy form and was sucked back into its portable home.

    “What...why did you do that?”

    Tommy shook his head. “Vlam was a little careless with the ember, and it burned too fast through the silk. She ended up burning her own paw.”

    Sammy gasped, “Is she okay?”

    “Yeah, she’ll be fine. We have stuff for that back in Goldenrod, of course.”

    Sammy called Caterpie back to its Nest Ball and then caught up with his brother, who was already making his way to the northern path that would lead them back home. Tommy had trained so many days away here in the forest that he could find his way out if he was blindfolded; Sammy’s only hope was to stay close behind him. They walked several yards with neither saying a word. Sammy finally felt an enormous smile paint his face. “So wait. I totally just beat you, right?”

    Tommy slowed his pace, but never turned back to face his brother. “I said Vlam was burned. Not out cold.”

    current PM list: Sidewinder; diamondpearl876; katiekitten; Janovy; Chibi Pika; Krazy95; Rotomknight; Zibdas; SilentMemento; energo; Pokémon beast; Ememew; SwarleyMosby; Knightfall; C.Gholy; Deadly.Braviary

    Special thanks to Eeveelover824 for the banner image!
    Last edited: May 1, 2013
    Knightfall likes this.
  2. Aurea

    Aurea Sees into your soul!

    First off, I like the story, it is very well written. The descriptions were good, wide range of vocabulary that really helped the reader to picture the battle. I would have liked to see a little more description on the surroundings and Pokemon, you mentioned that Vlam was a female Vulpix, but I think you needed to describe her more, make her different; you could of said she had a 'fierce spark in her ruby eyes' or 'her left ear was torn from her intensive battles'. I liked Tommy, you have already given him a strong personality of 'the annoying big brother' which is very good seeing as it's only the first chapter. Also, there were very few mistakes, and the one's I've listed here are either really small, or I'm just being picky.

    Although this sort of makes sense, this would be better:

    I don't know if 'paralyzed open' makes sense, but even so, maybe something like this would be a little clearer:

    Small grammar correction there in Bold.

    You have done this several times, but I'm only going to quote one line, you have missed off capital letters on String Shot seeing as it is a name of a move.

    Corrections in Bold.

    Overall, I've really enjoyed reading this and I will probably check back after the next few chapters to read some more, I really hoped this helped!

  3. Sid87

    Sid87 I love shiny pokemon

    Yeah, I caught the part where I forgot a word when Caterpie went back to its ball; I just forgot to update it in here. I fixed it in my Abiword document though! Now I'll get it here. As for the names of the moves...I was not terribly enamored of capitalizing them. My idea was, if I was writing a story with two martial artists, I wouldn't say "Jim unleashed a mighty Punch! But Tim countered with a Sweep Kick". :) But that might just be my preference on that area.

    I also get the correctness of switching "what" for "which", but I was also trying to keep the narrator in the head of Sammy. It's not first-person, but it's still attached to him, so I was trying to keep the narration at his level.

    I should have, yes, described Vlam a little better. I'm not terribly good at remembering to describe everything I want to/should. I need to make a mental note of that going forward, I suppose. When I start consciously thinking "I need to describe this", it tends to come across (in my mind) as robotic necessity writing, which I strive to avoid. But I really need to add little flavor text like that just humanize things more often.
  4. Aurea

    Aurea Sees into your soul!

    I'm really picky when it comes to Pokemon moves, I like to have them with capital letters, but as you said you don't like them with caps, so my fault on that.

    And even if it was from the point of view from Sammy, that's no excuse for bad grammar...... and if it was intentional you need to add more to clearly show that grammar mistakes are there on purpose.

    Yes, you don't have to add much more, just little bits that give characters their own quirks, and what you did have was good so no worries. And, I forgot to mention, please add me to a PM list of there is one.
  5. Sid87

    Sid87 I love shiny pokemon

    Chapter 1: Present Day

    Sam Stark woke up in the strange bed struggling for each breath. He caught a glimpse of the alarm clock next to his bed: Three in the morning. Sam pounded his fist into the too-hard mattress; he was used to having the nightmare by now, but he knew he’d never get used to how it felt waking from it. He briefly considered lying back down, but it was all-too-common that he never fell back to sleep after this nightmare. The disappointment of not being able to do so yet again was too much to bear. Rubbing his face in frustration, he felt the beard he’d been ignoring for far too long. Shaving, he thought, would be a good way to pass the time so early in the morning.

    He was thankful that Sinnoh had outlets that accommodated devices brought from other continents as he plugged his trimmers into the wall adjoining the bathroom sink. He had heard that other areas of the world like Unova weren’t as readily accessible for foreign devices. Thinking like that made Sam realize how big the world truly was, and that, in turn, made him realize just how far he’d traveled to get to Sinnoh. He’d left so much behind on his trip here, but really...what was left for him at home? He had talked to every doctor on both sides of Mount Silver; none of them had any answer that could satisfy him.

    A realization fell down upon him: today was the 17th. It had been two weeks since he’d arrived in Sinnoh! That meant when the customs office in downtown Jubilife City opened in the morning, he’d be able to get his friends back. He’d had them thoroughly checked at the Goldenrod Pokemon Center before his flight so he was sure that he wasn’t bringing any foreign diseases into Sinnoh, but customs still insisted on keeping them to run their own tests. It was an annoyance, however mild. Two more weeks on top of how long he’d already waited, but these ones felt longer than the rest. He was closer now than ever to what he needed, and to wait for a silly, redundant government clearance seemed an unnecessary chain holding him back.

    Sam ran his palm along his newly smooth face. He would be meeting with Professor Rowan by mid-day (he did some quick math in his head: if he could get his friends promptly at nine when customs opened, he could be to Sandgem town by noon), and he wanted to be presentable. No doubt that upon speaking to the professor he would think Sam crazy, so there was no need to show up bearded and wearing unwashed clothes to punctuate the point. What to wear? Sam had brought a suit, but that now seemed too stuffy; he wasn’t here to do a PowerPoint presentation or ask Professor Rowan to marry him, after all. He passed on the jacket and matching pants in favor of just the blue button-down and a pair of khakis that he still had plenty of time to iron. It wasn’t even four yet, after all.

    As of eight o’clock, Sam had never managed to get any more sleep when his hotel phone rang. It was the customs office verifying that his pokemon (the lady on the other end of the line seemed disaffected when Sam corrected her to call them his “friends”) were medically cleared for arrival in Sinnoh. Sam was still frustrated to have had to wait even this long, and she must have heard the annoyance in his voice because she seemed to be compelled to tell him about the lady several years ago who brought a Delcatty from Hoenn without having it medically cleared. Apparently, according to the attendant, Sinnoh’s Glameow community is only now recovering to its previous numbers after a leukemia variant swept through them. Sam thanked her for this information in an effort to get her off the phone, and she reminded him that their doors open at nine.

    Jubilife City reminded Sam of Goldenrod back home. The television station here reminded him of the radio building back home, and, oddly enough, both cities’ high schools had a Rhydon as their mascot. And both cities were huge! Rush hour in Jubilife was as frantic as it was in Goldenrod. Sam could hear his dad’s voice complaining about all the other drivers every morning. Everyone was already on their way to work when Sam left the hotel, and getting a bus down to customs was nearly impossible. Three of them, already filled to safety capacity, passed his stop without him. When one finally did have a small enough load to let more passengers on, Sam decided to forego the last seat he saw available so that an older woman could have it. She thanked him, and he nodded; at this point he didn’t care if he sat, stood, or danced the Hokey Pokey...he just wanted to get his friends back and get to Sandgem Town. Customs was clear on the other end of the city--near the condominiums--but traffic was nearly impassable. Sam hadn’t wanted to bring his luggage with him; he thought he could check-out after he came back with his friends, but as he watched the minute hand on his watch move faster than the bus, he started to fear he would be charged another day’s stay. The heat battered him through the windows of the bus as they sat behind lines of cars that couldn’t manage a simple merge point during construction. Didn’t these drivers understand how important this was?

    Sam had targeted nine o’clock; in actuality he arrived at nine-forty. He approached the window and gave the attendant his confirmation slip. She vanished into a back-room for several moments before finally emerging with the two pokeballs he had left there after his plane arrived. He snatched the Nest Ball into his right hand and the Dusk Ball into his left, then carefully latched them to the notches on his belt. He patted the Nest Ball gently as he did so and looked up at the clock. Everything felt better now. The discomfort of the bus, the heat from the morning sun, the thought of paying for another day at the Jubilife Resort, and the fear that perhaps he should have worn the blazer and pants after all wafted to the sidelines now that the emptiness of not having his friends was filled. He emerged from the customs office and pulled the Nest Ball right back off of his hip. With a gentle squeeze of the ball, a Butterfree appeared in the air, stoically beating its wings to stay aloft. The black spots in the veins of its wings marked it as a female of its species; her long, black antennae zipped back and forth, helping her take in the brand new environment.

    “Sorry about the customs office, Bree,” Sam said, finally getting the Butterfree’s attention, its antennae pointing at him, “I wish I hadn’t had to do that." Bree hummed lightly and shook its head, which Sam took as a sign that it was no big deal. “Are you ready to see Professor Rowan?” Bree hummed louder and fluttered up and down in the air in front of him. Sam nodded his approval at her energy. “Do you think our other friend wants to come out, too?” He snatched the Dusk Ball off of the other side of his belt and squeezed it lightly. A Ninetales emerged from the flash of crimson energy. It shook off each of its paws as if stretching out muscles that hadn’t been used in ages. The orange fox creature looked up at the tall buildings around it, decided the busy city was not worth the attention, then leaned down to lick its front paws to keep them as elegantly groomed as the rest of its fur. Its lengthy tails flopped about slowly, each in order. Sam bit down on the inside of his bottom lip as he watched his friend enjoy its freedom.

    “Does it feel good to be out of your ball, Vlam?”
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2012
  6. Aurea

    Aurea Sees into your soul!

    *bows down* Now that was what I call good writing! You included lots of descriptions, Sam grew a lot in character, I loved the funny lines and thoughts you put in, well done!

    Before I go into more detail about the good stuff..... I have two negative points:

    1) Not a lot happened, but the amazing writing made up for it, you should have put more emphasis on Sam's nightmare problem, extended it a little more.

    2) Grammar mistake!

    Where is that other speech mark? I was confused for a minute or two there....

    Anywho, on to the positive points:

    This is clever, I like how other Regions have different electric plugs, like they do in other countries.

    As with the first point, I like how you are mixing our way of treating foreign animals in the Pokemon world, and it was nice that you included a mini story to make it more believable.

    I like this line.

    This is a clever line here, nice style of writing.

    The end of this line made me laugh.

    *gasp* Major twist! A very good way to end the chapter as well! And I noticed you developed Vlam's character more, which is good.

    I hoped this helped, and keep up the good writing!
  7. PhantomDragon

    PhantomDragon KANINER!

    Aurea has pretty much pointed out all the highlights and mistakes of the chapter.
    Very interesting timeskip, especially since it's suggesting that Sam is a lot older now and that he has his brother's Nineteales. I agree that extending the nightmare scene would have been good though, as it felt as if you were trying to get it out of the way. The different Regional plugs is a VERY nice little detail.
    So yeah, knowing the backstory behind the timeskip/Vlam etc will be interesting...
  8. Sid87

    Sid87 I love shiny pokemon

    I agree with both of you; I should have done more with the nightmare. Not in revealing what it was just yet, but at least done more with his reaction afterwards. I regretted that shortly after getting this wrapped up. And yeah, this wasn't an extremely movable chapter, but I wanted to set up that Sam has a purpose and has changed since his youth. And also, obviously, that he now has his brother's Ninetails.

    Thanks for your feedback, guys!
  9. Sid87

    Sid87 I love shiny pokemon

    I'm trying to power through as much of this as I can on my 4-day weekend here, so here's chapter 3. With any luck, I'll have chapter 4 up in the late afternoon. After that, chapters will update at a much slower pace, I promise. :)

    Chapter 2: Twelve Years Ago

    “Vlam, use your confuse ray on it!”

    The small, red fox pokemon’s six tails stood erect from her hindquarters, and her amber eyes glowed with energy. The Machoke that had been charging her suddenly stumbled and fell over, its head cracking a rock on the field in two. The crowd assembled around the battle let out a cheer; the courageous Vulpix had clearly won their hearts by displaying her own against such a battle-proven foe. Tommy’s perpetual smile, well-groomed blonde hair, and positive mannerisms certainly didn’t hurt, either. At least not with the young ladies in attendance.

    Sammy, from his seat in section P row 12, let out the loudest cheer of all. Tommy had done great so far in making it to the Johto Regional Quarterfinals of his first year in the World Pokemon League, but the competition this round had stiffened dramatically. Tommy and his opponent, a tall, pale man from Olivine with tattoos sleeving his arms, had been battling for twenty minutes already. Tommy’s Crobat, Magneton, and Pidgeotto had all already fallen, and the opponent--Sammy looked up at the scoreboard to recall that his name was Thurmond--still had this Machoke and something else unrevealed in play. Tommy was down to just Vlam in this four-on-four quaterfinal. Sammy’s excitement at Vlam’s grabbing the upper-hand temporarily made him forget the empty seat next to him; the seat he’d been expecting his dad to show up and claim for the last hour.

    Back on the field, Vlam maintained her offensive while the fighting-type pokemon struggled to regain its bearings. She darted left and right, each movement inching her closer to her foe. Sammy recognized this instantly: it was Tommy’s way of maximizing Vlam’s foe’s confused state. The Machoke and its trainer had no idea from where she would be attacking. A double juke put her behind the Machoke, and she began covering herself in a ball of fire. Thurmond’s voice roared for Machoke to turn around, but the bewildered pokemon couldn’t understand its trainer’s command. Vlam’s flame wheel connected into the small of Machoke’s back. The crowd hailed strong approval, which incited Thurmond to yell back at them and shake an angry fist.

    Sammy was so into the moment, he never paid any mind to the man who finally came down the aisle and took the seat next to him. Sammy’s senses were ensnared by the battle; Vlam was lining up her enemy for a flamethrower, and Machoke was certainly about to go down.

    “Samuel Stark?” the man next to Sammy said, oddly enough like it was a question.

    “It’s about time you got here, dad. You’ve been missing Tommy’s first ever quarterfinals. You’re lucky he didn’t realize you were late. Even luckier that I’m not going to break his heart and tell him.”

    The man’s arm reached out to Sammy’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, son. I’m not your father.”

    Sammy flinched at the words, and pulled his arm away. He was about to ask the man who he was and why he was in Sammy’s dad’s seat, but when Sammy saw him, he realized by the uniform that he was an officer. The man nodded as a greeting, took off his blue cap, and pulled out what looked to be a wallet. He flipped it open to reveal his badge. “I’m officer Trufant. I didn’t mean to startle you, Samuel.”

    Sammy’s mind wandered; why was a cop here for him? He thought about this past year in eighth grade when he told Evelyn Simmons that he was going to steal her new gaming system so he’d have something to do over the summer. Did she take him seriously? Was he going to go to jail or something? He stole a glance to the field; Vlam had just knocked out Machoke and was waiting for Thurmond’s final pokemon. Tommy had no idea what was going on! Sammy might be in jail for days before anyone noticed he was missing!

    “Son, can I talk to you for a moment? It would be better if we could speak privately.”

    Sammy was numb. Without a word, he got up and followed the officer to the concession area. At least he wasn’t handcuffing him in front of the crowd...in front of Tommy. Sammy couldn’t help but think that if Tommy looked up into the crowd and saw his little brother getting arrested, he’d forfeit the quarterfinals to rush the stands and save him. It was better this way, Sammy thought. His older brother shouldn’t pay for Sammy’s dumb joke on a classmate.

    ”Why don‘t you take a seat on this bench?”

    Sammy thought it odd that this cop wanted to arrest him while he was sitting down, but maybe it was harder to resist if you were sitting. He put himself down on the bench outside Taco Barn to which Officer Trufant had pointed.

    “I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, Samuel. Your father is in critical condition.”

    “I know, but I didn’t actually--” Wait. What did he say? Sammy had already convinced himself this was about Evelyn. His brain needed a few extra seconds to absorb this information. “My dad?” he cried, shocking a family who was getting a snack nearby. “What does that mean?”

    Officer Trufant rubbed his mouth with his hand. “He was pulling out of the hospital and was involved in an automobile collision with a tractor trailer. He was thrown...,” the officer stopped there and seemed to reconsider what he was about to say. “It just doesn’t look very good. You and your brother need to come with me to see him. We’ve arranged for an escort for the both of you, and several of my fellow officers are outside waiting for us.”

    Sammy knew his father needed him, but what about Tommy? He didn’t even know yet, and he had worked and trained so hard to get where he is. But this cop made it sound like dad could be... (Sammy couldn’t bear to finish that thought, and his brain redirected) ...like dad really needed to see them right away. The exclamation from the crowd out in the open-air stadium reminded Sammy that the battle was still going on. He felt a clock ticking inside of him as the officer looked at him expectantly. Dad had always said the road leaving work was awful; he talked constantly about wanting them to put a stop light there. Tommy was possibly just minutes away from the semi-finals. But how soon did they need to get to the hospital? A hundred bees swarmed inside his brain, and before he knew what he was doing, he was at the railing over the battlefield screaming his brother’s name.


    En route to the hospital, Sammy apologized to Tommy for what felt like the thousandth time (he was losing count between his own sobs). Tommy had rushed from the competition at the sight of his brother yelling for him maniacally and took the disqualification loss in the regional quarterfinal round of his first year in the WPL. Tommy squeezed around his little brother’s shoulders one more time and gently shushed him. Since the day they caught Sammy’s first friend, Tommy had continued to grow, and his one-arm embrace engulfed the little brother who was clearly the runt of the family. Aside from the shushing and the sobbing and the squealing of the siren above them, the car was silent as they raced to the University of Goldenrod City Medical Center. Sammy and Tommy had both been to this hospital countless times--heck, their dad worked there, and it had long-since gotten to the point where Sammy forgot most people don’t usually want to go to hospitals. When the brothers were there, it was usually just a trip out there to pick something up at the office or to make arrangements with dad’s co-workers. Sammy tried to convince himself that this was all just a prank by dad and his buddies; that they were just messing around with his sons. His brain wasn’t buying it.

    Being pushed through the hospital doors by the cops as they ordered patients waiting in the E.R. to clear the way was very surreal to Sammy. The cops told the attendant at the nurse’s station who the boys were, and even though Sammy understood the message of what he said, the words seemed to come out as a jumbled language he couldn’t decipher. They were ushered through more doors until they were in the middle of the emergency room. The officers spoke again with the information area of the E.R., but Sammy’s senses still felt disconnected; it wasn’t until he noticed the nurse at the information desk shake her head and he heard Tommy gasp that everything returned to focus.

    “He didn’t make it, I’m sorry. He passed just a few minutes ago.”

    Sammy’s initial thought--a thought he would regret countless times over the next several months--was that he cost his brother the tournament for nothing. It was immediately replaced with the realization that he and his brother were alone now. Mom died of cancer when Sammy was three, and now dad was gone, too. Tommy was all he had left.
  10. PhantomDragon

    PhantomDragon KANINER!

    That was...not at all expected. Poor Sammy. :(
    No spelling or punctuation mistakes that I could see, so congrats there. I have to say, the way you changed from the battle scene to Sammy's point of view with the officer was very good, as it felt pretty natural and not forced. The battle scene itself was well written as well, imo. Sammy's eaction to the news that his dad was injured was also very realistic.
  11. Aurea

    Aurea Sees into your soul!

    Again, you have written this chapter fantastically well, you have a unique writing style that mixes up the narrators descriptions in with Sammy's own thoughts. Very well done to you, sir. Although, I must say, I didn't feel as if the chapter was quite as good as the previous one, but still really good. Another thing to point out is that the readers have never seen Sammy's father, nor has he been in a scene yet, so any sadness you want the reader to feel probably doesn't sadden them quite as much as you wanted it to. Sure, I feel sorry for Sammy, but I'm not that sad or that pitiful because there wasn't a big character development. Of course you can't do anything about it now since you have already posted the chapter, but just for the future, if you want to include deaths of close friends/family of main characters; really make the reader feel as if they know them, make the reader love that certain character. Even if they don't have a big role, if you can get readers to like them, then any death will really shock and sadden people. As a result, I felt as if the chapter didn't have much of a point, but that's just me.

    Anyway, as PhantomDragon said, the switch between the battle descriptions and Sammy's thoughts really flowed together, it felt natural and it was easy to read through. I liked Vlam's description, and it feels as if she is starting to develop a rather feisty and determined, (if a little bit vain) character, so I hope that will show in future chapters. Well done as always, and I hardly spotted any grammar mistakes, and the ones I did just made it feel even more as if Sammy is narrating some parts and we are hearing his thoughts.
  12. Sid87

    Sid87 I love shiny pokemon

    You know...I really wrestled with (and went back-and-forth a few times on) whether or not their dad was going to be alive when they got to the hospital so that he could be actually introduced. In retrospect, yeah he should have been. But I also decided it was the story of Sammy and Tommy (mostly Sammy), so a part of me wanted to keep the rest of their lives ethereal and, I dunno, out on the fringe. I also had the idea that, at Sammy's age, a boy's father is still a larger-than-life figure to you. He's a role model of almost mythical proportions (to the point where Sammy thought it was inconceivable that his father wouldn't be at one of his son's events even though he was working), and I considered the idea that actually showing him...hmmm. I dunno. Yeah, I probably should have had him still alive when they got to the hospital so he could have at least been a character. Ah well. :)
  13. Aurea

    Aurea Sees into your soul!

    Exactly, a boy's father is a role-model, no child could ever imagine a life without his father, and I feel that this chapter didn't show that love between father and son because we have not seen the father interacting with his boy. Although, I must give you credit because you still made me feel sorry for poor Sammy because you managed to get that idea of children's innocence of the world really well. And Sammy acted in a believable way which any boy under those circumstances would have. And also that thought at the end about it being a 'waste of time' was a nice touch, because we all have thoughts like that sometimes, and that makes Sammy not look as if he is a perfect angel = a more believable character we can relate to.
  14. Sid87

    Sid87 I love shiny pokemon

    Thanks! When I doubt my ability to remember to adequately describe things or rush through areas that I should be focusing on, I at least take solace in my ability to write believable characters and dialogue. Glad you noticed. :)

    ALSO: Supermegaultralove goes out to fellow Serebii user YaDunGoofed, whose amazing work now graces my signature as a link to this very story.

    ALSO ALSO: I wrote a few paragraphs of Chapter 4 last night, and if I may say so, they are my favorite part of this story I've written so far. Hopefully I'll get it posted by tomorrow evening!
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012
  15. Sid87

    Sid87 I love shiny pokemon

    Odd coincidence I noticed this chapter: I unwittingly gave my brothers a family name that is also the name of the mountain in Sinnoh. That wasn't on purpose, but now I feel like I should throw in a subplot about their ancestors climbing that mountain or something. Heh.

    Chapter 3: Present Day

    Sam sat in the lobby of Professor Rowan’s laboratory thumbing through the magazine selection on the small desk next to his seat. Newsweek, Linoone Fancy, National Geographic, World Pokemon League Illustrated, and Ponyta Dressage Today; nothing that really seemed to catch his eye. Sam thought this odd because he usually enjoyed Newsweek, at least, but his heart just didn’t seem to be in a place for reading about other peoples’ problems. He felt a shiver in the base of his neck that he was unsure if he could attribute to his nerves or the air-conditioning. Just as he had always heard, Sandgem had beautiful weather outside, but it could get to be stifling indoors where the breeze from Sandgem Bay could not penetrate. Air conditioning in this seaside beach town was much less of a convenient luxury like it would be at home in Goldenrod and much more of a life necessity. Every few minutes, he’d catch the fact that the foot crossing over his opposite leg was swaying rapidly. He’d stop it, but as soon as his mind wandered off, the appendage began gleefully oscillating again. After several tries of stopping it only to find it swaying again on its own soon after, he placed his right hand on it in an attempt to hold it in place. He nodded as if to motion that this would teach his errant foot for its impudence, and he went back to rooting through the magazines for something to catch his eye. He passed a men’s fashion periodical and again cursed himself for nixing the full suit.

    Bree was oblivious to all of this, as she had fluttered her way into a corner of the room and was pecking around an overgrown houseplant whose vines were snaking between Rowan’s window blinds. Time and again, she’d dig her head into the heart of the plant only to snap it back out in alarm when its leaves tickled her wings. “There’s no honey in there, Bree,” Sam would say to her as she stared down the plant, her wings stretched wide to make herself appear large. After several seconds, Bree would forget the advice and again dig into it.

    Vlam watched this with what appeared to be great disinterest, curled around Sam’s inactive foot. She had always seemed slightly annoyed by Bree’s impetuousness, and Sam imagined that her thoughts must have been something along the lines of ‘How has this thing not outgrown this yet?’. Vlam had entered battles very much like Tommy always did--meticulous, patient, and subtle. She would almost always concede an opponent’s opening salvo so that she could get a taste of their power and strategy. Bree, meanwhile, never outgrew her trainer’s methods of battling from his younger days--headstrong, fast, and furious. Bree and Vlam had sparred countless times over the years while Sam was growing up; to say that Vlam had a winning record would almost be an understatement, but despite her displeasure at Bree’s immaturity, she always licked Bree’s cheek after a victory and let the butterfly pokemon chase her many tails. Bree never seemed to mind her losses to her sister much, anyway. Despite the Butterfree’s innocent veneer, she and Sam had become a potent duo not unlike Tommy and Vlam. Sam’s youthful fear of being referred to as ‘Bug Catcher’ by his classmates quickly dissipated when the two of them were constantly near the top of his class rankings. In the corner of the room, Bree had again found herself assaulted by the plant and was now buzzing at it furiously. Vlam--perhaps weary of her sister’s noise or perhaps wanting to comfort her--disengaged herself from Sam’s leg and took patient steps towards the plant. Bree studied her as Vlam buried her own head in the plant, shook its leaves, and then emerged. Bree chirped a response, Vlam cooed back, and that seemed to be the end of her great interest in the plant for the moment.

    The door to the left of Sam finally opened, and he whipped the magazines back onto the table where they came from as if they had been illicit, and, in equally quick fashion, Sam was on his feet. Through the door came a much older man, a red vest covering his shirt and tie. It was hard for Sam to discern exactly how old he might be thanks to the walrus beard he was sporting that could have actually made him appear much younger by hiding his wrinkles. A sucker in his mouth not only disguised his potential age but his profession as well. The sucker switched to his left cheek as he studied Sam. “Sam Stark?” he asked. Sam nodded, and the man resumed, “Good to meet you, son. I’m Professor Rowan. I’m sorry to have kept you waiting, but I don’t get many visits without appointments.” Sam could not tell if this was an honest statement or a rebuke on Sam’s part for not having scheduled his arrival. “I was in the middle of a rather lengthy correspondence with a peer, and I did not want to lose my train of thought.” As he said that, his lollipop’s stick was also getting lost under the bristle of his mustache. “How can I help you, my boy?”

    Sam wiped his palms on the inside of his khakis pocket before extending his right arm. “Yes, it’s nice to meet you, professor. I’m Sam--wait, you already said...I’m sorry.” Sam shook his head and chided himself internally. “Let me start over, Professor Rowan: it’s very nice to meet you. My father spoke of you when I was younger.”

    Rowan’s eyes narrowed, then shot open. “You’re Evander’s son! Little Sammy Stark!” Sam again nodded at this more colloquial introduction. “Heavens! You wouldn’t actually remember this, but you and I have met before. When you were just a pup.”

    “I was told, sir. He always held you in high regard.”

    Sam’s father had apparently won an internship under Professor Rowan in his younger days. Before going into anesthesiology for human patients, he had considered working in the field of pokemon medicine. During that part of his life, he worked with Rowan in Kanto and studied pokemon physiology, evolution, and development. Sam recalled that while his father ended up going a different direction with his work, he never failed to praise Rowan as the greatest mind under which he ever worked.

    “High regard then from a man who deserved to be held equally high from what I understand.” Rowan removed his red sucker and smoothed his beard with his free hand. “It was a terrible loss what happened to him. I know it was ages ago, but you have my sympathies, Sammy.”

    Sam waved in the air as if pushing smoke aside. “It’s just Sam, professor. I haven’t gone by Sammy in years.”

    Rowan nodded right at the time Vlam had approached him from behind and rubbed her muzzle against his hanging right hand. “Yes, I suppose that’s a name a lot of young men would grow out of.” Vlam circled the professor’s legs before settling down at his feet and closing her eyes. She had, in Sam’s estimation, always been a great judge of character, and for the first time in a year Sam had hope. Perhaps this man would be able to help him after all.

    “So how can I assist the family of an old friend, Sam? This is a long way to come just to visit a man you can’t ever remember meeting.”

    Sam sighed and turned away from the professor. He walked over to the wall of the waiting room where hung a map of Sinnoh. Sam studied it up and down; it was not that different from Johto back home. Mount Silver separated Johto from Kanto just as Mount Coronet here separated the two ends of Sinnoh, and much of the continent was a solid land mass, as opposed to the Hoenn islands. Despite the similarities, however, Sinnoh had something of great importance that Johto did not, and that was why Sam had left his life behind on hold to come here. Bree flittered over after noticing her trainer was engrossed in the map; she flapped about his head trying to get his attention, but he barely registered her. All he saw were three points on the map. Lake Valor. Lake Verity. Lake Acuity. The reasons he had come here.

    “I need them, professor. I need the legends.” He turned away from the map and stared down Rowan unflinchingly. “Azelf, Mesprit, and Uxie. I’ve come for them, and I won’t leave Sinnoh without them.”
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2012
  16. PhantomDragon

    PhantomDragon KANINER!

    Ooh...the plot thickens! No grammar or typos that I could pick up on, so kudos (unless someone else finds some...)
    Cheers for the PM as well, if I could officially be on the PM list, that would be great. :)
    Lovely description of Sam waiting for Professor Rowan, imo. You added lots of small details, but it didn't feel over-detailed. It conveyed how Sam was trying to focus on small things really well, and putting that amount of detail and pulling off a good effect isn't easy.
    By the way, just wondering, how come you renamed Mount Coronet? And is Stark a Game Of Thrones reference?
  17. Sid87

    Sid87 I love shiny pokemon

    GAH. I was reading the Bulbapedia of Sinnoh, and I came across Stark Mountain (where Heatran is), and confused it with Mount Coronet. I edited the change. :) Thanks for catching that, it was a silly mistake on my part.

    I'd be happy to continue PMing you, so thank you for not minding. :)
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2012
  18. Sidewinder

    Sidewinder Ours is the Fury

    Hello there. I saw that you posted in the Fanfic review exchange thread, and I was hoping we could exchange reviews. I'll list small grammar incidents I found with each chapter, then summarize what I've read after I'm done

    @ Prologue

    Comma isn't needed here

    Should be 'twitched'

    You use ':' alot I've noticed. You could accomplish the same things with a ';', I believe

    When a new character speaks, or gives his or her thoughts on something, you should split it with a line. As I read that sentence, I got a little confused as to who the focus was on, and had to re-read it to understan.

    That part I think could have been on its own in a seperate line. That would give it more power. As I was reading, it stuck out for me because I was trying to discern the paragraph from the thought, if that makes sense. Maybe put the thought in italics and quotations, and that might rule out confusion

    Chapter 1

    'Three' doesn't need to be capitalized

    Misplaced apostrophe

    The second sentence doesn't have to be on its own, as it had to do with what the first sentence was talking about

    You could replace the '--' with commas or semi-colons easily

    @ CHAPTER 2

    Didn't really find anything here, though you may want to go back and check yourself.

    One thing I noticed however, is you went from the Prologue, to Chapter 1, to Chapter 2, then to Chapter 4. It skipped 3. It may have just been a numbering mistake, but yeah

    @ Chapter 4

    That comma is not needed

    Once again, when a new character speaks, it helps to put a line between their speech and the description beforehand. Puts emphasis on the character and what they are talking about without distraction

    Well, besides those mistakes I mentioned, I enjoyed what you have so far. Mistakes I pointed out can usually be avoided with a paragraph by paragraph proof-read. Grammar goes a long way when reading a story. When I don't have to stop and look back, and don't stumble over grammar mistakes, it makes the read much more enjoyable. I'm really in no position to preach, because I still make some of these same silly mistakes in my own fic, but if you take a little more time with your work, you should be able to weed out almost all of them.

    Another thing I wanted to touch on was Chapter length. I didn't put the Prologue into a word processor to check its length, but it felt like to me that the Prologue was longer than the following chapters. The prologue had perfect length, density, and scale. When it came to the chapters however, I was left wanting more. Which is always a good thing, but it left me wanting more in the sense that the chapters felt too short. It didn't feel like enough was happening, and left me somewhat unfufilled. Don't be afraid to write longer chapters. As long as you have a story that captures someones attention, they'll stick with the fic regardless of the length. Not that there is anything wrong with writing shorter chapters either when the occasion calls for it. Make sense?

    Description was another area that I found somewhat lacking. You did good describing Caterpie's size in the Prologue, but other than that, there was nothing. When it came to Vlam as well, all I could picture was a game sprite. It's an important thing to describe Pokemon in a fic. How is this Caterpie different from all the rest? Despite its size, what sets it apart? Coloration, weight, tendencies, color, body structure, etc. Granted, almost everyone who comes to this forum to read your fic will know what Vlam and Caterpie look like, but when you describe them more fully, it helps to the reader to fully form a picture in their head about what they are.

    One thing that really stood out for me was the description of the hazing that took place with the insect pokemon trainers. It was really realistic and a nice touch. Typically, insect Pokemon are shown as weak, or unworthy of being trained when compared with other species, so it was nice to see that you acknowledged that stygma. It was almost like the kids who get bullied for liking Pokemon by the athletic clique, if that makes sense. And btw, I prefer Caterpie over Bellsprout any day. Miah is a moron.

    As others have mentioned, I like the fact that you included the adaptability of the electrical devices in Sinnoh, and called to attention the fact that some of the other continents didn't. Really nice touch! That's the kind of detail that I love to see, and was a really bright addition on your part. Some of the regions are seperated by huge expanses of water, just like North America is from Europe. So it should be no different that there are going to be some differences when it comes to day to day nuances like outlets. Good Job!

    All in all, I think the Fic needs a little more attention. You have a great premise, and I'm starting to like Sammy more and more. Just expand further on the ideas that you have and take notice of the advice other people have given you. Though it does need some work, you have a decent start, and I'm excited to see where you take this. Good job, and add me to the PM list
  19. Sid87

    Sid87 I love shiny pokemon

    A lot of that you are right on (especially the randomly misnumbered chapter...that's actually really embarrassing), and I will get to fixing them and watching more carefully from here out but I'm going to defend a few of the points you mentioned.

    It's not NEEDED, but it's not wrong, either. Using a comma before "though" or "anyway" is a preference, and I prefer to do it. :)

    Actually, "twitch" is right there. It could have been "had twitched", but as it stands, it is right to see twitch.

    You're really on this point, and if it bothers enough people, I guess I could change it, but it's hardly an uncommon thing to do in writing. The narration, while not first-person, is glued to Sam, so his point of view is inserted into the narration. I do get what you are saying about it making it hard to read, but I try not to break up paragraphs more than I have to (since I already inherently write short paragraphs, heh).

    I don't think that's the case. They are the high schools that belong to the two cities. The cities' high schools.

    Well, not semi-colons. Maybe you mean parentheses? Either way, commas, dashes, and parantheses all do the same thing to a different degree. Dashes are meant to emphasize the separated text, parantheses are supposed to de-emphasize, and commas are neutral. I just liked dashes for the separated thought in that instance.

    The prologue actually WAS substantially longer than anything else thus far. I think it was 5 pages, the other chapters have been maybe a paragraph or so longer than 2. Leading into that is that the story is basically all taken from the prologue, which is an idea I had YEARS ago, but never wrote anything down (originally it was a rookie trainer and his rival, not two brothers. So the reason it might have been longer is its an idea I'd fleshed out quite a while ago. I always tend towards shorter scenes/chapters. I think it keeps the story flowing better when read all at once, but yes, I agree, it is all a bit abrupt when read bit-by-bit and not all at once. I'll work on that.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2012
  20. Sid87

    Sid87 I love shiny pokemon

    Chapter 4: 10 Years Ago

    The sidewalk to Sam’s house had never seemed so long before. Heck, the day itself had never seemed so long! Even on the days where he had back-to-back-to-back exams, none were as long as this day had been. It had been exactly four class periods, twenty-eight minutes into a fifth, and a bus ride home since he had gotten the news, and all he wanted to do since that moment was tell Tommy. He had briefly considered getting his cell phone out of his locker between classes, but it wasn’t worth having his whole PokeGear taken away again. But the classes and the bus ride were behind him now, and it felt like the handful of seconds he spent running up his walkway might as well have been another hour. The front door was locked--Tommy always kept it locked, and Sam usually joked that he did it just to prolong the time it took him to be officially home from school--and fumbling his key into the lock was agony. Why couldn’t he just pass right through the door like a ghost?

    He barged into the kitchen to see Tommy stuffing junk mail into the garbage next to their countertop. “Tommy! Guess what?”

    Tommy studied him. Sam knew Tommy could tell how imperative this was by the gusto with which he’d asked him to guess, and he knew that Tommy was pretending to put careful thought into his reply when he was really just dragging it out even longer.

    “You finally got an A in Geometry?”

    Sam let out a laugh at the improbability of that. “No, stupid! I--”

    “You can’t get an A in Geometry, and I’m the stupid one. That’s fair.”

    Sam ignored him. “I got top seed in the freshman class!”

    Tommy nodded his approval. Sam remembered that it was just six years ago that Tommy had been the top freshman pokemon trainer in his school, and he had carried that through to four consecutive years as Trainer of the Year at Goldenrod High School. Tommy had changed only slightly since those days; he was still a very charming young man, but now--even at just twenty years old--he had slight bags under his eyes from all he’d taken on in the last two years; his hair was less naturally flowing and more frazzled and out-of-place. Sam was embarrassed when he realized he must have been beaming; he wasn’t as good of a trainer as Tommy, but he was still apparently pretty good on some level. He probably wouldn’t finish as top trainer overall like his brother, but at least he was seeded higher than Miah Vanderbelt. The look on his face when they had announced him as number two in the class was the second best part of Sam’s day; he had been insufferably smug ever since his dad gave him a Tangrowth for Christmas.

    “Tommy, this is all because of you. Seriously. If you hadn’t been pushing me and training with me so much, I’d have never been good enough to get this.”

    Tommy grinned. “Well I’m related to you, stinky. I couldn’t face the customers at work if they came in every day and said ‘Hey, isn’t your brother the kid that couldn’t beat Miah and his Tangrowth?’”

    “Oh, so I told you about that?”

    “Just once or fifty times. And there was a lot of muttering under your breath about how you’d like to see his Tangrowth hit Bree while she was in the air.”

    “Yeah, I really don’t think it can...”

    “Well I tell you what, champ. Anything you want for dinner tonight. You name it. I’ll run out to the department store and pick it up. Twenty percent employee discount celebratory dinner.”

    “Sloppy Joes!” Sam responded with no hint of hesitation.

    Tommy laughed and shook his head in disbelief. “Sam, you are cheaper and easier to feed for a year than most pokemon. You’re too good to me.”

    Tommy picked his wallet up from the counter and began rooting around in his pocket for his keys; he probably did not notice Sam’s expression sobering up. The news of being top of his class for training wasn’t the only thing he had brought home with him today. There was also a sharp lump in his right pocket. Tommy was musing aloud about never having the sense to put his keys in the same place, but Sam was miles away from those words, in his own head. What would Tommy think? Would he be excited? Saddened? Sam’s hand slowly went fishing into the pocket and pulled out the rock he had been given at the seeding ceremony hours ago. When he pulled it out, he unconsciously checked it to make sure it was the same as what was presented to him: a bright, transparent orange crystal. Wordlessly, he held it out in an open palm for Tommy to see. His brother, having finally reclaimed his keys from the top of the refrigerator, stopped short at the sight of it.

    “Where did you get that?”

    “They handed out prizes to the top seeds in each class this year,” Sam replied sheepishly. For some reason he couldn’t figure out, his eyes refused to meet his brother’s. “Freshman class winner got a fire stone.”

    Tommy’s hand was patting Sam’s shoulder so fast, he hadn’t even seen his brother extend it.”That’s great, Sam! I guess poor little Zeek is going to become a Flareon! And just in time for your Trainer of the Year tournament.”

    Sam wanted to use words, but he suddenly found that he didn’t know any. He merely shook his head, afraid of what his brother would say when he found out.

    “No, huh? You’re still shooting for an Espeon, I guess. You really should groom it a little better then, Sammy. I can’t imagine it loves it when I am cutting the knots out of its fur.”

    “Vlam.” It was the only word that Sam’s brain would release.

    Tommy withdrew his arm from his younger brother’s shoulder. His mouth opened, but then closed again right away. A second time it gaped, but again no words followed. Tommy was twenty now, and had been with Vlam for half of his life. Sam knew their father could have gotten Tommy a fire stone if he had wanted to while the elder brother was growing up, but he never did. Sam remembered the lesson his father had taught him once, giving the impetuous child a Nest Ball for catching his first friend. Was keeping Vlam a Vulpix all those years a lesson for Tommy? Sam tried to imagine what lesson that might be: appreciating what you have? Not expecting others to change for you? It didn’t matter. Dad was gone now, and Sam wanted his brother to have this stone.

    “No, that’s all right, Sammy.” Tommy’s voice was barely above a whisper. “Vlam’s been fine all these years. And she barely ever gets to battle anymore except in our spars. You should keep that.”

    Sam shook his head furiously, his brain still on the fritz for spoken language. His eyes did finally get the bravery they needed to look into Tommy’s.

    Tommy sighed. “Okay.” He relented, Sam thought, and the pressure that had been building in his jaw that he hadn’t even been aware of until now eased away. The older brother grabbed Sam and pulled him in for a hug. When was the last time they had spontaneously hugged? Sam couldn’t even recall. “Dad would be so proud if he could see you, Sammy. Just like I am.” And just like that, Sam was hugging him back.

    After releasing each other, they said their temporary goodbyes so that Tommy could get going to the Goldenrod Department Store where he worked as an assistant manager and pick up Sam’s victory Sloppy Joes. Tommy had been employed there since shortly after dad had passed. Their father was a doctor, so thankfully he had managed to save enough to help keep the brothers afloat, but there were still taxes to be paid on the family property, as well as utility bills and upkeep costs. Sam had thought it would be better if the two of them just moved into a smaller apartment, but Tommy wouldn’t hear it. Their parents had this house built when they found out mom was pregnant with Tommy, and he refused to let it go; he thought of it as his birthright. It was uncomfortable to think about, but they had been kind of lucky ever since dad passed. The University of Goldenrod City Medical Center swallowed all of their dad’s medical costs and they footed the bill for his burial. And since dad worked at a university-owned hospital, Tommy (and eventually Sam, too) had their tuition paid for at the school, as well. That assistance only went so far, however, and Tommy did the best that he could to cover all the bases, working as many hours as he could grab when it wasn’t absolutely necessary for him to be in class.

    Sam’s mind went back around to the Trainer of the Year tournament; he’d need to choose which friends he’d be entering. Bree was a no-brainer; she was his first and his best. As his brother had noted, Zeek was not ready for this, though. He hadn’t heard from the Johto Day-Care Center recently, so he didn’t know how his Nidorino, Barnabus, was doing. It was weird, the day care had been mailing him weekly updates, but he hadn’t heard from them in a while... Sam’s eyes caught a glimpse of the garbage can and he remembered his brother stuffing mail in their as Sam walked in the door. He might not have recognized the update letter and thrown it away. Sam started digging through the pile of coupon periodicals and credit card offers, and while he did not find the letter he was hoping for, he did see an official-looking paper from the University of Goldenrod City. He easily recognized the UGC watermark that had come on so many of Tommy’s other notices from the school. He either must have thrown it away by accident or it just wasn’t important; Sam checked just to be sure.

    He was barely a few words in when the shock of the letter hit him. Tommy had failed out of the university! The notice attributed this to bad grades and an overall lack of regular attendance. But Sam couldn’t figure out how that could be; his brother was always so smart and ahead of his class. Even if not for his family ties to the university that got him in for free, Tommy’s test scores had assured him a slew of scholarships at any school of his choosing. There’s just no way he could have failed out! The realization crept into Sam’s awareness like a spider stalking prey in its web. Tommy hadn’t failed his classes because he couldn’t handle them; he had failed because he simply wasn’t going often enough. He was working fifty hours a week at the department store on top of taking care of the house and helping Sam with his studying and training. He had forsaken his future in favor of providing Sam one for himself.

    Tommy had given his brother a normal life despite their parents both being dead. Sam, in return, gave him a rock. He buried the letter back in the trash where he found it and headed to his room to study Geometry.

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