Two weeks of waiting for his teacher to come back, and then two more of working up the courage to talk to him. These past four weeks were excruciating for Nathan; excruciatingly quiet and devoid of any joy. Keahi still refused to talk to him, and any attempts to interact with her were shrugged off and ignored. He had to do something about it; it's not like he had any other friends and he couldn't afford to lose the only one he had forever. So he had to suck it up, and talk to… him.
Nathan waited by the school's front gate, leaning against it as everyone left for the day. Finally the person he was waiting for headed for the exit, with a bag lazily swung over one shoulder. Nathan stood between Guzma and freedom for the day and stated, "we need to talk."
"Yeah, no, we don't." He tried to walk around but the boy cut in front of his path a second time.
"Before you either walk off or yell at me I need you hear me out, please?" A little desperation leaked from his voice.
Guzma scratched his head in thought. "Yaknow my memory of that whole event is pretty fuzzy considering my head got cracked and all, but didn't I tell you to shove it and don't bother apologizin'? I'm pretty sure that was what happened."
"Yeah, but you should know right now that your opinion means very little to me. But I need to make up for my mistake somehow. So since you won't accept any apology I want you to tell me exactly what you want me to do to make up for it." He folded his arms, gaze steady with resolve.
Guzma narrowed his eyes at him. "Really? You wanting to do somethin' for me? Holy shit Arceus has descended and the world is ending!"
Nathan glared at him defiantly. "I've been thinking about this for weeks now. I need to show you that I'm sorry and that I won't do anything like that again, but sadly, you're just as stubborn as I am!"
Guzma put his hands on his hips and leaned in. "I may be stubborn but I'm also observant, you just want Keahi back in your good books doncha?"
Nathan's cheeks went pink as he broke eye contact.
Guzma flashed a smug grin. "Aha! Found ya out. I ain't stupid kid, she's actually shut up in class for once. So this whole thing just kinda wraps around to you being selfish again."
Nathan shouted, "is it so bad that I want to fix things with both you and her?!"
"Hmmm…" he shrugged, "Guess not."
"So are you going to let me do something to make up for it or not?"
Guzma tapped his lip in thought. "Well… There is this one thing I've been meaning to do…"
Nathan's eyes lit up. "Yes?"
"Alright, ya wanna make it up to me kid? Go to Akala island and catch me a Bounsweet. I'm busy I can't do it myself right now." What's left of Team Skull wasn't going to sort itself out.
Nathan was a bit confused. "Wh… what? That's it? Can't you do that yourself?"
Guzma cocked his head to the side. "Oh so we've got a choosing beggar huh?"
"Tell ya what, I'll sweeten the deal, no pun intended. Do that for me and I'll trade you for it. I'll get you a Skorupi straight outta the Sinnoh region if you can find me one of those lil pink things."
Nathan folded his arms and tapped his foot for a moment before agreeing, "...Fine, it's a deal, I'll catch you one, and then we're cool?"
"I wouldn't exactly say cool, but better." He held out his hand.
"That's a start." Nathan couldn't help but smile a little as he shook it.
It was a bright and early Saturday morning, Nathan stood at the border of Lush Jungle, backpack fastened and pokeball at the ready. He turned around, the sun peeked over the trees, casting a long shadow over his three sleepy companions. He placed his hands on his hips and asked, "ok, so is everyone ready to go?"
His first companion, Curtis, let out a loud yawn. "Wait wait… Why are we here again? It's too early for like, anything…"
Nathan sputtered, "to- to find a Bounsweet! I explained all this on the trip here!"
Amelia stretched as she spoke. "We got up at like, four in the morning. We were half asleep on the boat! All because Yume was far too nice to say no!"
Yume flinched a little. "Eep! Sorry!"
"What the hell did you do Nathan, threaten her?" asked Curtis snarkily.
Nathan looked back at them shocked. "No! I asked nicely!"
Yume rubbed her arm awkwardly. "Not to be mean or anything but your nice isn't really my nice…"
Nathan ran his hands down his face. "Ughhhhhhh…" he adjusted his backpack, "Can we just get going?"
"Wait, shouldn't we go in through the front entrance? Where there's, yaknow, paths?" suggested Amelia.
Nathan shook his head. "No way, we're not on our island challenges yet, the gate's shut! This is a covert mission guys. We go in, snag a Bounsweet and get out. Easy! Easy easy easy! Yume, here's a map, lead the way."
Amelia winced a little. "You sure that's a good idea?"
Yume was surprised. "Wait I'm in charge?"
"No I'm in charge," corrected Nathan, "you're just the guide because you have a Bounsweet. But go nuts, I'm relying on you."
"You know what? I'm going to take that!" Yume started off into the dense brush, "No one ever wants me to lead! So screw it I'm gonna be the best guide you've ever witnessed! I'm gonna make this lame trip fun!" She started to run, but tripped over a root and skidded over the dirt.
Amelia ran up beside her. "Are you ok?!"
Yume sat up, groaning, "didn't see the root… Everything is just a green smudge…"
Amelia turned and glared at Nathan, Curtis just deadpanned at the three of them.
Nathan shoved his hands in his pockets, feeling a little stupid. "Oh great…"
"It's ok!" Yume then stood up, brushed herself off and opened the map. "I just got a bit excited, we'll just walk, but I'm still the leader! However if anyone sees a Pokemon please tell me I don't wanna be attacked." She then set off at a slower pace into the forest.
Nathan and Amelia followed as Curtis brought up the rear, mumbling, "we're doomed."
An hour later, Curtis rubbed sleep from his eyes, yawned and hit his head with his fist a few times for good measure. An hour of walking and they still hadn't seen any Pokemon; he was sure the totem would've snuck up on them by now for going against the rules of the trial but nope. Nothing but the cries of distant Pokemon.
Nathan was starting to become fed up. "This is getting ridiculous, we should've found a Bounsweet by now!"
Yume pointed out, "there just hasn't been any! We would've smelled one by now. The poor things get picked off by bird Pokemon a lot so don't be surprised if they're all hiding."
"Isn't curtis a self-professed psychic? If you're really special wouldn't you have sensed one by now?" asked Nathan.
Curtis didn't even look at him. "I never agreed to actually help you."
Amelia folded her arms. "Yeah we're here for Yume, not you!"
Nathan threw his arms up in frustration. "Fine! Fine then! Just fucking spectacular! You guys are so amazing, way to look out for other people!"
"Why are you even doing this anyway? Don't you like poison types?" asked Yume curiously.
Amelia smirked. "Heh, unsurprised, they really match your toxic personality."
Nathan snapped, "shut up, and I just need it ok."
Curtis glanced around at their surroundings cautiously and asked, "going to present it in a bouquet to Keahi and win her back or something?"
Nathan turned around to face him and shouted, "what?!"
Curtis dramatically put a hand to his forehead and acted out, "Oh keahi, I'm so sorry for nearly killing you, please accept this gift and fall right into my arms~ "Oh nathan, you used to be an asshole but now you're so sweet! I love you so much, mwah mwah!""
Nathan balled his fists, his face bright red with rage. "That is not what's happening here!"
Amelia rolled her eyes. "Calm down! Even if it's not it's obvious that you like her, like, like-like her, what with the way you hang out and all. You're like always together."
Nathan shouted. "So are you three! What, are you all boyfriends and girlfriends?!"
Yume shrugged. "No we just hang out, but you two like, hang out. She actually gets to look at your sketchbook and you walk home together!"
Amelia added, "she gets to use your special pens even though she sucks at drawing, bias much?"
Curtis made sure nothing was following them before continuing, "I bet you even want to kiss her. Gross."
Nathan growled, "I Hate All Of You."
Amelia shouted back. "We love you too Nathan!"
Nathan gritted his teeth, stopped in his tracks then began walking back the way they came. "Well I'm going to leave all three of you out here to die and all your parents are gonna be all "oh where did they go the forest claimed another victim" but I won't care because I'll never have to hear this again!"
Curtis grabbed him by the back of his shirt and said, "yeah but we're lost and I'm the only one who can get us out of here so tough shit you'd die too, and then we'd all end up ghost Pokémon and we'd torment you for eternity~"
Nathan shoved his hand away. "Fuck off."
Yume rubbed the back of her neck and commented, "you know Nathan, you're really mean for someone who wants to be a cop."
"I'm not mean! Mom says I'm stern…"
Amelia crossed her arms and tilted her head. "Didn't you try to for real kill our teacher twice? No, three times!"
"I didn't try to kill him!"
"Bullshit," Curtis then asked, "then what the hell did you try to do?"
"Get him to... learn his lesson? He should be in jail I was trying to punish him."
Amelia grimaced a little. "It honestly looks like he's already been punished."
Curtis added, "Yeah, you're a dick."
Nathan threw his head back in frustration. "Yeah it's bully Nathan hour I guess! My favourite time of day! "
Curtis put a hand on his hip. "Dude if you just chilled out a little and actually stopped with your up your own ass bullshit then people would actually like you, rather than just the dumbest girl in our class."
Nathan clocked him in the jaw, sending him stumbling backwards and causing the girls to shriek. Curtis spat out a small bit of blood, reared back and tackled him to the ground. Both girls jumped in and together managed to pull Curtis off of Nathan, dragging him backwards. Nathan sat up and brushed himself off, Amelia walked over to him and leaned over. "I'm not pulling that whole awful teacher thing of 'only one of you were wrong', you both sucked just then."
Nathan snapped, "maybe if he knew how to keep his mouth shut!"
Curtis spat out a little more blood. "You only reacted because you know I'm right."
Nathan glared and moved to get up, but Amelia blocked him from walking forward, saying, "we're taking a break until you both learn how to be nice to each other!"Yume agreed, "yeah that wasn't cool at all."
Nathan looked past her to Curtis and yelled, "I can take whatever you say about me, just don't talk about her like that. She's not stupid!"
Curtis stood, unflinching. "Why are you still defending someone who hates you? She's probably finally wisened up to the fact that you're a complete psychopath."
"I am not!" yelled Nathan in desperation.
Amelia pointed to him and demanded, "NO MORE ARGUING! We are taking a break! Curtis, go for a walk. Nathan, we're setting up breakfast together. No. More. Fighting."
Curtis stormed off into the woods, Amelia crouched and began to produce paper plates from her handbag. Nathan grumbled to himself as him and Yume set up a picnic blanket together. Around half an hour had passed, the four of them were sitting around eating sandwiches and berries with their Pokemon. Nathan's Mareanie constantly begged for more food, but he ignored it and stared off into space, frowning.
Suddenly Curtis cut through the silence, he seemed calmer but something was clearly irritating him. "Stop thinking about me like that. It's annoying."
Nathan blinked and then looked at him. "What are you talking about? No one's done anything.
"You keep stewing over what I said, knock it off."
Nathan was beginning to become irritated. "I can't knock off something that I'm not doing. You're the one making a fuss. All I'm hearing are the cries of bird pokemon.
Curtis tilted his head. "You hear their cries, I hear their thoughts, and all of yours. Do you know how hard it is to focus when you're constantly hearing voices? Especially when they think about me, like you're doing now. I'm creeping you out. You didn't like that I said I'm creeping you out and you want me to stop, also, subconsciously you really want a plate of your mom's pancakes. And no Nathan, thinking of a beartic to throw me off and prove that I'm not actually a psychic won't work"
Nathan looked at him with wide eyes, he we honestly kind of gobsmacked. "I don't feel comfortable with this."
Curtis stared straight into his soul. "What aren't you comfortable with? That I can hear your feelings of inadequacy? That I know you want everyone to look up to you and spend their days going "I'm so proud of you Nathan! You're doing such a great job I feel so safe!" Especially with how fragile you're currently feeling now that everyone is telling you the opposite? That you're scared Keahi secretly hates you? Or that you're shaken up because the teacher you hate so much reminds you so much of yourself?"
Nathan moved to stand up, Yume grabbed his shirt and pulled him down again.
Amelia sighed a little and said, "Curtis has a point… Nathan do you really not realize that no one has ever liked or appreciated how you've been acting or how you treat people? Keahi's not the only one thinking that."
Now Nathan appeared visibly upset
Amelia smiled sympathetically. "I understand that ultimately you want to help people! But... something I learned a long time ago is that if you're not kind to people then what's the point? I try to follow the rules and steer people right but you'd just bully people into doing that instead..."
Yume added, "yeah, not you're not a hero, or a cop. You're just a kid like the rest of us."
Nathan chose to stare at the berries in front of him.
Amelia grinned a little. "Anyway this is why I like Curtis so much, he actually sounds like an adult."
Curtis shrugged. "I'm in their heads a lot. They mostly just worry about paying bills and the crushing reality that no goal in life will be achievable. Or they sit there wondering if their job or family will ever make them happy."
Yume cringed. "Ok I hate that can we just focus on being kids please?!"
Nathan then quietly mumbled, "can we just… Find that Bounsweet and get out of here…? Please?"
Yume said, "I think if we walk just a little further we might find one." They all then stood and began to pack everything up, fitting it all into their bags neatly. Yume then paused and let out a small gasp. "Oh, I have an idea!" she turned to her Bounsweet and crouched as the others returned their Pokemon, "Hey Bounsweet? Can you use sweet scent?"
"Swee!" It followed her instruction with ease.
The four of them waited for a few minutes, soon, three Bounsweet and a Formantis emerged from the forest curiously.
Nathan's jaw dropped. "Why didn't we just do that in the first place?!"
Yume shrugged. "Didn't think of it. Well, go ahead, catch one!"
Nathen threw a quick ball at the closest one, causing the rest of the Pokemon to scatter. The ball's red light clicked off after one shake. Nathan picked it up, wondering if the trip was really worth it in the first place.
Amelia sighed with relief. "Ugh we can finally go home! Curtis lead the way!"
Yume chimed in, "yeah this map is useless."
The pair began to follow Curtis, leaving Nathan standing in the middle of the forest. He then turned and picked up the pace a little, internally hoping this would smooth everything over. Even when the heroes have a fight afterwards everything would return to the way things were and they'd start over. At least that's what his comic books told him. God he hoped they were right.