College Daze
Chapter I
By: Sara Miyamoto

Disclaimer: This is a non-profit work of fiction. Pokémon is ©1995-2007 Nintendo/Creatures Inc./GAME FREAK Inc.

Warnings: Yaoi, yuri, language, adult situations, and other goodies. Offended? Too bad! No one forced you to read.

Notes: It has been a long, long time since I've worked on College Daze. Finally having overcome my writer's block, I have decided that this is my first great project: The revival and eventual completion of this fic, which has sat unfinished for far too long.

First, I want to apologize to everyone who has been waiting so long for this story to continue. Trust me when I say you can't have been more disappointed with the lack of new material than I was myself. It was so frustrating to sit here, day after day, month after month, and to have the words in my head simply refuse to come out properly. I have lost track of the number of times I sat down to start working on a new chapter, only to admit defeat after twelve hours of deleting everything I managed to get out because none of it felt right. You have waited so long, and so patiently, and I thank those of you who decide to come back and read this archaic tale, to give me another chance to bring this story to you. I hope you find it worth your time.

With that said, I should let everyone know that the story will be getting a face lift. Not the complete overhaul I had originally planned, for that would simply cause a larger wait before the new material is finished. But I am going through and fixing some glaring errors that sharp-eyed readers will have spotted in the original version (though were far too nice to me to point them out), as well as doing some spelling, grammatical, and formatting corrections that are in dire need of doing. I also hope to add a bit here and there to places I feel the story was lacking. So while these first nine chapters are largely what has been available for years, they have been updated, and those who wish should please go through and read this story in its entirety once again to see what has changed. I can only hope I can manage to make the second read a better experience than the first.

And with that, let us begin...

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--Shigeru--

Have you ever felt as if you were experiencing your life through a fog? It's a strange sensation, when you're acutely aware of everything as it happens, yet afterwards the details are sketchy. When each day feels as if it took a year to finish, but when you look back, you can't believe a whole week or month has gone by. The time just slips away from you.

My life's been like that for the past couple months. It's not surprising, really. A lot's been changing for me, so things have been kind of hectic. The ironic thing is that things are so hectic because I'm settling down for once.

I've heard such a drastic change in lifestyles can do that to you, but I've never really experienced it until now. Ever since I was ten years old, I've been constantly on the move. I can't even remember the last time I spent more than a couple days in the same city, let alone the same bed.

But that's the life of a Pokémon trainer. We don't make it by staying still, usually. We have to go out and experience the world, to search out gyms and Pokémon—to see things from as many different angles and perspectives as possible. It was a life I had loved every day for nearly seven years, and had dreamed of having years before that. And a part of me still loves it.

This, of course, brings up the question "If you love it so much, why are you quitting?" Well, I'm getting to that.

Like so many other kids, when I turned ten, I set out to become the world's greatest Pokémon Trainer ... I set out to be able to claim the coveted title of 'Master' for myself. And, I know I fell short of that along the way. But that's okay. I have enough trophies and ribbons, my face and my name are famous enough. I don't need any more. My ego in that regard is sated.

But my drive to be the best is not. Thing is, it's not just for myself anymore. Over the years, I've learned so much. And I realize the old saying is true; the more we know, the more we realize exactly how little we know. It's this fact that has driven so many people like my grandfather to devote their lives to studying the wondrous creatures that inhabit our world. And while we may never know everything about them ... well, we can try.

And the path I planned to walk was not one you can just stumble into. I was going to have to work, and work hard, if I ever wanted to so much as hold a candle to my grandfather when it came to conducting research into Pokémon. And that's what eventually led to me being here. 'Here' being Minamo University, in the Houen Region. Yeah, you heard me, people. Ookido Shigeru was going to college.

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I feel it's important to explain a bit about my past before things progress. Understanding who I am, where I came from, will be important later. It will help you understand why things turned out the way they have for me, and why I've done the things I've done in life.

Some of you, perhaps, thanks to one interview or article or another, know some of the basics. But I've never divulged much to reporters, just enough to satisfy their curiosities, and get them to leave me alone. I never was much of a social person, and my past is a subject I don't like talking about much. But this story is too important to me to keep the details hidden now. So excuse me if I ramble, because I'm really not used to this sort of thing.

I was born and raised in Masara Town, a quiet little town in southern Kanto. My family consists of my grandfather, the famous Ookido Yukinari-hakase, and my sister, Ookido Nanami. My parents died in a car accident when I was really young, and unfortunately I don't remember them very well. Everything I do know about them comes second-hand from my grandfather and sister.

I've always led a rather privileged lifestyle. My grandfather, the world-renowned researcher that he was, was a wealthy man. Between research grants and the income brought in from various companies that used his research in their work, it sometimes seemed he couldn't run out of money if he tried. I was never denied anything if cost was the only concern. Perhaps that's why, when I was younger, I was so arrogant. I was used to getting my way with almost anything. Unfortunately, my arrogance and natural social anxiety led to me not having many friends. Actually, I only really had one.

Satoshi. In the earliest memories I have of life, he and I were already the best of friends. But just a few weeks before we started our training, we had a bit of a ... falling out, I guess you could say. I'm pretty sure that's why, as we went along our paths as trainers, we were so incredibly hard on each other. Memories of a friendship gone sour burned within us and supplied us with fuel for a rivalry that at times seemed to border on the lines of hatred. I think, in a way, it was for the best, though. I'm not sure either of us would have worked as hard as we did, accomplished so much, if not the harsh words of the other driving us on.

However, my truest friend being my fiercest rival had its downsides. Not only did the harsh words he said to me hurt at times, however easily I shrugged them off, but what I said to him was always empty and meaningless, and it easily hurt me more to say them than it did him to hear them. And Satoshi, being the kind of hyper, in-the-moment person he was ... I'm not sure he ever realized any of that. It didn't help I was always perfect in my performance. The few times my facade fell away before I had turned my back to him, he was already so fuming mad that he didn't notice.

Luckily, we didn't meet very often. I had planned it that way, as I didn't really think I could stand seeing any more of him than I absolutely had to. We couldn't help a few chance meetings though, especially at big competitions such as the Pokémon League Championship tournaments. For the first couple years, I had my cheer leading squad to use as a shield, and I was able to keep up my holier-than-thou act around him ... but after a while, I had left them behind, along with a lot of the old arrogance and fear I had felt. I had found that the idol-like image I had sculpted myself in was making me feel worse and worse the longer I hid inside of it.

I didn't rub my superiority into Satoshi's face as I used to. But after our battle at my grandpa's ranch (which, I might add, was started by Satoshi) it was obvious I was the stronger of us. And at that point, I think he was so upset and lost in bad memories, he couldn't tell how sincere I was as I tried to tell him how good of a job he had done. To him, it must have seemed like three years of work wasted.

The funny thing is, two years later in the Jouto Pokémon League he finally beat me. But to be perfectly honest ... my heart wasn't in that battle. Maybe if it had been, I would have won. But we had spent so much time together in the days that led up to the tournament, that I couldn't concentrate on the fact that he was my opponent, and not the friend I had lost years earlier.

What really surprised me (though in hindsight it shouldn't have) is that I wasn't upset. In a way, I was happy it had happened, because it meant we could finally, officially, put our rivalry to rest. And we did. After that point, we were finally able to call ourselves friends again. And it's about then that I started to consider settling down. I didn't have my rivalry with Satoshi to spur me on any longer, and it sounded like a good idea. As far as training was concerned, I had nothing left to accomplish for myself. But the itch to travel was still too strong, and so, as he had followed me to Jouto, I followed Satoshi to Houen.

That is where things started to really slow down. My time in Houen was, while fruitful, largely uneventful. I rarely ran into Satoshi and his friends, and even after collecting eleven badges—three more than enough to enter the League there—I decided not to enter, and instead cheered Satoshi on from the stands. I doubt he ever even realized I was there.

I spent a few months after that just traveling and letting myself unwind, before I called my grandfather and asked him to help me get things set up. After another week or so, I got a call telling me where to go. Nanami was with him, as she wanted to talk to me as well.

Even over the video phone, I could tell how proud they were of me. It was nice to see that on their faces. It almost made it feel like my parents were there, and feeling just as proud.

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And so, here I am. After traveling a long, twisting path, I eventually made it to Minamo University. Minamo is a beautiful city that I had only barely experienced when I had passed through before. It's a port city with a beautiful beach, and offers a wide variety of things to do, and places to go.

One of those places happened to be the continent's largest shopping complex, a behemoth of buildings that dominated the center of the city. I was lucky to find that one store or another in the mall sold just about anything anyone could ever hope to find, from furniture to a quick bite to eat. I would say it made shopping much easier, but to be honest, I don't have much to compare it to. My shopping experiences were mostly limited to a few articles of clothing over the years, food, and training supplies. I will say, however, that having so much variety so readily available in a centralized location seemed to ease the process for me.

When I first arrived in the city, I had little to work with. I had an apartment waiting for me, which I didn't find out until I arrived was unfurnished. My first few days in Minamo were spent in a hotel as I picked out furniture for my new home (man, it's weird applying that phrase to any place other than grandpa's estate) and waited for it to be moved in. Once I had a bed and the basics, I officially took up residence in the space I'd likely spend the next four years in. It took me another several days before the place stopped looking so barren. Dressers, bookshelves, entertainment center, couches, chairs, rugs... I had never realized how much work could go into filling a two-bedroom apartment. I felt worn by the time I was finally done with furniture, picking it out, waiting for it to arrive, directing the movers where to set it up. But more tiring was the idea that I wasn't done yet. I still had so much left to do before classes started.

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It was just a little more than a week before the first classes of the year were to begin. I had my schedule, and had been given an extensive tour of the campus a couple weeks earlier. All in all, I was just starting to feel kind of comfortable with the area, though the sensation of having stayed in the same place for so long was still taking a bit of getting used to, and I was already fatigued from the work of setting up my apartment.

I was at the mall, just browsing the different stores for this and that—after all, my apartment had furniture at this point, but little else, and now that I had a place to keep them, it turns out I love collecting little pewter figurines of Pokémon. I also have a couple bookcases to put to good use. Half of one is filled with two sets of encyclopedias donated to my 'cause' by my grandfather, but the rest of the space needs to be filled with something.

And it was as I was walking out of the Barnes & Noble bookstore that I saw him. It took me a second to make sure, as it was from behind, and he had recently grown out of his habit of wearing a hat everywhere, but there was no mistaking that head of unruly black hair, or the Pikachu riding comfortably on his shoulder. It had been a while since we had officially seen each other, about a month before the last Pokémon League Championship he had been in, so I thought it'd be nice to spend a bit of time together, as he wasn't likely to be in town for long, and he'd likely never pass through this town again. This would probably be my last chance to talk with him for years.

"Satoshi!" I called as I did my best to make my way towards him. The mall wasn't overly crowded that day, but four rather hefty bags full of various items slowed my progress considerably.

I don't think he heard me, but I saw Pikachu's ears twitch in response to hearing her master's name, and she turned to look my way. A moment after, Satoshi turned to follow, and he smiled as he saw me heading his way, turning to meet me. "Shigeru! It's been a while, hasn't it?"

"Yeah, it has," I said with a bit of a smile. "What's say we catch up on the past couple months over a milkshake? My treat."

I'm still not sure exactly how, but at that point, I swear to the powers that be that Satoshi and his Pikachu shared the exact same grin. And as we made our way towards the food court, I had already resigned myself to the fact I'd be buying three milkshakes, not two. I didn't really mind, though. I had never once in over six years seen Pikachu inside its PokéBall. The two shared a bond of friendship every bit as strong as Satoshi's multitude of traveling companions had ever managed to make with him.

After getting our drinks, we picked out a free table and sat down, and Pikachu began enthusiastically nursing an apple-flavored milkshake ... a flavor that I'm still kind of shocked the store even carried. Satoshi had gotten chocolate, and was going just a tad slower than his Pokémon. I had chosen vanilla, but I didn't start on mine until I had asked the question.

"So what's been going on in your life?"

"Well, ever since the last tournament, Haruka and I have been taking it pretty easy. Checking up on old friends and family. She's been in Touka, visiting her family, but she should already been on her way here. Should be here tomorrow, in fact."

I took another sip of my drink before replying. "Why didn't you meet her there, or arrange to meet to somewhere else? Seems a lot of trouble to have her come all the way out here to Minamo."

He was in mid gulp, and hurried it down. "Oh, she has to come here. We're both starting classes at Minamo University next week. So while she was visiting her family, I was finalizing things here."

I really wish I hadn't been mid-swallow when he said that. Because that's about the point where I almost choked on my milkshake.

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End Chapter I.