We didn't know what to do with Chuck, so we did this. I'm sorry.

Once Kris had her Pokémon healed and returned to her, and they made sure Eusine was nowhere in sight, Ethan led his friends and Avery into the Cianwood City Gym. Almost immediately, the crashing of waterfalls drowned out all sensible thought, and they all wondered if it was a Water-type Gym instead. Whichever type it was, it was clear that the Gym Leader didn't hear them enter, as he sat underneath the main stream with his eyes closed in meditation.

"So how are we going to get his attention?" Lyra asked, and Ethan thought it over. The idea he came to was one that he was very proud of, and one his mother would have scolded him for even considering.

"Hey, Kris?" he said, grinning mischievously. "Does Chomper know Ice Beam?"

"No," she answered immediately. "Besides, my parents and uncle won't really approve of using a Pokémon attack against a human, and they feed me so I want to stay on their good side." But she had an idea of her own. "Do you think your Togepi can Metronome an Ice Beam, instead?"

"Don't freeze him, guys," Lyra said around a sigh. "Let's think of a way to get the guy's attention without plunging the Gym into an ice age, ok?"

There was a brief moment of silence.

"Maybe we can boil it with a Flamethrower?" Kris offered a few seconds later.

Lyra's only response was to push her into the pool of water.


The solution to their problem was really a simple one, and, looking back, Ethan wondered why he hadn't been the one to come up with it. After a few minutes of discussion, and several more shooting down changing water temperatures, Lyra hesitantly approached the shirtless man and lightly tapped him on the shoulder.

His eyes opened at once, and one or more of the kids may have let out a girly squeak. Ethan was more than likely one of them. The Gym Leader seemed startled to see them, too, but stood up from the waterfall only moments after. "Challengers, I presume?" he asked, and Lyra pointed at Ethan.

"One challenger," she stated unnecessarily, and Ethan waved hello. "And he's in a hurry. He needs to get a badge in the next two hours, before the boat for Olivine comes to take us back. There's a sick Pokémon that really needs us."

The Gym Leader studied Ethan carefully. "How many badges do you have, boy?" he asked.

Ethan swallowed hard, his mind racing. "Four," he finally admitted. "I have four badges. Why do you want to know?"

He knew the answer to the question, of course. It was just easier for him to ask, because it gave him enough time to plan out a backup strategy. The only backup strategy he was coming up with was 'hit them until they fall,' and that might not be able to be applied to all Gym Leaders. Then again, this guy seemed pretty straightforward. Maybe Avery and Pidgeotto would be enough after all.

The man didn't seem to notice the last-minute thinking his newest challenger was doing. "Four badges," he said, glancing at the pile of Pokeballs sitting in a nearly-hidden hole in the wall behind the waterfall. "That means I can use four weak Pokémon or two stronger ones. Which option do you choose?"

"Two," Ethan said instantly, thinking back to Jasmine and the Ampharos. They needed him soon, and soon was when the boat would come back. He had to make these battles go fast. Which meant no more thinking, and praying to whatever god and/or legendary Pokémon happened to be listening that he'd get a one-hit KO.

The Gym Leader seemed willing to agree to his terms. "Two Pokémon, eh? You got yours all planned out?"

"Um...you use Fighting-types here, right?" At the man's confirmation, Ethan reached for Pidgeotto's ball. "Then I'm pretty sure I'm ready."

The Gym Leader grinned. This was going to be fun. "Primeape, enter the ring!"

Ethan thought of Jasmine and the sick Ampharos, and threw the ball onto the field. "Pidgeotto, time for battle!"


A devastating Rock Slide attack had nearly taken Pidgeotto out, but Ethan had come prepared. Thanks to her compulsive shopping, his mother had gotten too much when she went out the other day, and had sent him special berries that reduced damage from Rock-type attacks. And despite what Kris claimed to the contrary, Ethan was no idiot. He seemed to realize that Fighting-type specialists liked to cover their Flying weakness with Rock-type moves instead of, say, Thunder Punch, and Chuck was, apparently, no exception.

Kris was amazed, but Lyra just knew that Ethan had been looking up facts about the Gym Leaders on the internet.

Chuck's Primeape had fallen to Pidgeotto's Wing Attack after only two or three hits, and Chuck was forced to call it back and send out his Poliwrath to take its place. Ethan was sure that Pidgeotto could handle a simple Poliwrath, and called for another Wing Attack, just as Chuck ordered a Focus Punch.

"What's a Focus Punch?" Ethan asked, and Chuck laughed.

"You'll see in a minute, boy," he warned, and it was only three seconds later when Poliwrath clenched its fist and sent Pidgeotto sailing across the room, into a wall, and sliding down to the floor, unable to continue.

Ethan recalled Pidgeotto, trying not to show his panic. Poliwrath was half Water-type, so Avery should have an advantage. But she'd won against a Flying-type back in Falkner's Gym, proving that types weren't everything in a battle. What if her advantage wasn't enough?

Oh, well. If he lost this battle, they'd just come back for a rematch after he saved Amphy and defeated Jasmine. With that thought in mind, he swallowed his fear and called on his happy little biter. "Avery, time for battle!"

The Bayleef materialized on the battlefield and clicked her teeth together. The Poliwrath looked almost afraid.


Ethan quickly discovered that if a Focus Punch user got hit between the 'focus' and the 'punch' parts of the move, it usually missed its target. With that discovery out of the way, it was only a matter of time before Ethan used his bond with his starter, and said starter's Razor Leaf/Synthesis combo, to completely curb stomp Chuck's remaining Pokémon. Within five minutes, Poliwrath fell hard, and the Storm Badge was glittering in Ethan's badge case.

That did not mean that Ethan had forgotten about Jasmine and the Ampharos. He barely even looked at the badge after putting it away, something Chuck noticed was unusual behavior compared to the other challengers, and didn't even let the man start on his usual post-battle encouragement speech.

"How much time do we have left, Lyra?" he demanded instead, and Lyra checked her Pokegear clock.

"Half an hour," she answered, clicking it shut and adjusting her hat. "We should probably get going if we want to make the boat."

"Then to Jasmine we go," Ethan said enthusiastically, tossing his badge case into his bag and gesturing for Avery, Kris and Lyra to follow him. Strangely, the Bayleef attempted to give him a fist-bump. "You Gym Leaders talk, right, Chuck? I'm sure she'll give you the whole story."

And the three of them raced out the door, the Bayleef bouncing along behind them.

Chuck was alone for maybe thirty seconds before his wife stepped through the door, the question clear on her face. Chuck shook his head and picked up his dumbbell.

"You probably don't want to know," he warned, and the woman laughed.

"Probably not," she agreed. "The boy was singing 'Once Upon A Dream' from Sleeping Beauty, very loudly and off-key, and the girls were threatening to hit him with an Ice Beam from a Croconaw. Are all your challengers like that?"

"Not all. Just them."

"Aren't you glad we never had kids?" she teased, handing him some Revives to use on his Primeape and Poliwrath.

"Every day of my life."