by Jedi Amara
Author's Note: This is one of the stories written in the first half of 2005 that I am currently archiving on FFN. Think of this as a kind of sequel to "memory" - it works as standalone too, and hence it's still a oneshot, but if you're going to read both read the other one first. This one's a bit darker than the last one, though. The story is set about a year after "memory". Wow, another first-person fic. I must be going crazy. Hmm... naming. As I stated in the AN to "memory", Jordan is named after New Found Glory frontman Jordan Pundik. Jordan and Jake's last name is Wilson, after Good Charlotte's current drummer Chris Wilson. (Hey, I was gonna make it Escolopio after original GC drummer Aaron, but it was a touch too obvious.) Josh Madden is, of course, older brother of twins Joel and Benji from Good Charlotte, and co-founder of MADE Clothing. Harley is named after the guitarist from the band who were my first real clients, 52 Reason. They rock, go check 'em out - after you've read this fic.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything except the things I do own. Blah.
"Jordan! You did it!" Harley raced to my side and hugged me.
"Harls, quit that, you're strangling me," I sputtered, grinning at my best friend. We stood and listened to the announcer. The words bounced off the stadium walls, filling every corner with sound.
"Please congratulate our new Indigo League Champion - Jordan Wilson!"
The friends I'd made through the rounds gathered round to congratulate me. Smiling, my opponent shook hands with me.
"Good going Jordan, that was the best match I've ever had!"
"I can't wait to battle you again, Josh," I said. Suddenly, over Josh's shoulder, I saw a man coming towards me. A man whom I didn't remember meeting before, but who looked strangely familiar, all the same...
He reached me, and I saw his eyes, a reflection of my own. Harley looked at the two of us.
"Jords, he looks like you!" whispered Harley, shocked. I nodded.
The man smiled. "It's good to see you again, Jordan."
Clutching sodas and burgers, we wandered to the nearby park and sat by the fountain. Dad smiled at me.
"Now, Jordan, I'm sure there's a lot you want to know."
"Yeah - why did you leave us?"
"I can't tell you that yet - "
"Dad! I'm thirteen! It's been ten years; I have the right to know."
He considered for a moment, then nodded - slowly, as if weighed down by some great burden.
"Yes, I'll tell you."
"Jordan, Harley... I've never told anyone about this - not even your mother, Jordan." He stopped. "You have... no idea what it means to me to be finally letting this out."
He paused again; this one stretched into a silence. My father took a deep breath, and started talking.
"When I was younger, I was a very good Pokémon trainer - although I never reached your heights, Jordan. I gave that up the day I turned twenty-one. When I was about Jake's age, I joined a group - not a resistance group, exactly, but an activist group, aimed at stopping the everyday terrorism threatened by Pokémon thieves. People like Team Rocket." He licked his lips to wet them. "There was a major offensive planned on my twenty-first birthday. It was dangerous, but we believed we had allowed for every eventuality. Every one of us was going into Rocket HQ - that was 37 expert trainers, armed with full parties of Pokémon. We were risking everything on this one plan.
"We entered the building without any difficulties. We were all congratulating ourselves on an entry that had gone off without a hitch, when we heard a noise. All the doors around us had locked. We knew, then, that we'd walked into a trap. 37 of us, all expert trainers and with years of experience fighting organised crime, and no one had suspected anything. The last thoughts, then, of some of us, were of how we could be so - stupid.
"There was an explosion. My best friend died as I held him... I promised him that I would pay the Rockets back for what they did to us. I told him that I'd avenge him. But without the group, I couldn't... so I put away my Pokéballs forever. I was the only person to leave that building alive, but for a long time after it I didn't feel alive - I ate, and slept, because something was telling me I had to, but I felt no pleasure, no joy.
"I met your mother when I was 24, and for the first time in a very long while I was happy. We married, had you and Jake - and then we had to move. We'd been renting a house we couldn't afford, and then your mom's grandfather died and left her his house.
"The house was only a few blocks from where my friends had died."
My father shook his head. "I don't know if I can say any more."
"I think I can guess, Dad."
"No, you'd better hear it from me. The real story. What really happened.
"I thought that I could stay away from there, if I was careful. I was trying to forget - I hadn't ever wanted to remember. After two years, I thought I was doing well - but then I came home that day, and your mother told me she had a new employer.
"Team Rocket. The very people on whom I had vowed to have vengeance, and whom I knew that I could never now defeat. I couldn't take it. I walked out of the house that day, and I didn't look back."
The story hung in the air, as if he was daring me to believe it. I wanted to believe it, felt that it was true, but after all those years of my mom and my big brother telling me what a loser my dad was for walking out on us, it was just so hard - even though I'd been away from home for over three years.
"Dad... why didn't you ever write?"
"I couldn't bring myself to. I knew your mom would just throw the letters away," he said, but there was something he wasn't telling me.
"What is it? I know there's something you're not saying," I said, slightly aggravated.
"Jordan, this is a lot to ask, but - you're a better trainer than I ever was. You're my son. We could do great things - even, maybe, defeat Team Rocket. My experience, your power. We'd be known as the greatest crime-fighting team in the country, perhaps, with you, the League Champion."
Harley jumped up accusingly. The words were for me, but he was staring at my father.
"Jordan! Don't you see? He doesn't care about you at all - he's only come back for you because you've won League! Did you ever hear from him in the ten years since he left you? He's just looking for... for the reflected glory... you can't leave me..." His voice trailed off, and he glanced at me, defiant but almost pleading. Dad was looking at me too, and I was startled to see the hurt that showed in his eyes.
"Jordan, surely you couldn't believe that?"
I stood there, torn between my friend and my father, and wondering which of them was acting, and which was right...