After an INSANELY long hiatus that came due to Murphy's Law in its many forms, 'Sharing' is back with its second arc. The chapters in this arc will be 'significantly shorter' than the first one as a means of covering the many people, places, things and other aspects that help to form a million-dollar rivalry in a piece by piece format. Plus, more keys to the past unlock deep, dark secrets of both Hikari and Nozomi and it all begins again, right now! Enjoy, whatever fans remain!
NOTE: This entire story uses a mix of both Japanese and North American dub names. This chapter is entirely in the first person POV of Nozomi and there will also be a flashback in this chapter.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Pokemon, a creation of one Satoshi Tajiri, and is produced domestically (in the United States) by Pokemon USA/The Pokemon Company, and internationally by Shogakukan and OLM. I personally own nothing and make nothing by writing this. Please do not flame.
(Chapter 8- Familiar Faces in Unique Places: Part One)
Saturday August 11, 2007
Putting the finishing adjustments on my tie, the butterflies in my stomach are more than apparent. I'm sweating bullets right now in front of the mirror because today marks my very first appearance on a pay-per-view card, and my opponent is the traveling bard, Naoshi. While I don't necessarily agree with the path he has taken choosing to compete in both contests and gym battles, keeping serious coordinators like myself, Hikari, Shuu, Haruka and others away from our ultimate goals, I must say that he is more than worthy competition for me and many others that are taking part in this special card in Pewter City.
Every pay-per-view card for pokemon coordinating has a certain theme. This theme can be determined by either the main event, the host city or the theme can be in conjunction with another event in the area. The theme for this particular card is 'Differences of Opinion,' which is also the title of the card itself. There are a total of 12 contest-length matches and one special main event match that will take place over anywhere from three to four hours. Earlier today, there were matches between Kengo and Harley, where Kengo came out the victor in a very close match up between Prinplup and Cacturne that got a great ovation upon its conclusion.
Aside from that bout, there was another hard fought battle between Grace and Savannah, where Savannah won with her Flareon against Medicham, and a two out of three pokemon grudge match between Haruka and Shuu, where Haruka won after her Blaziken knocked out Shuu's Masquerain. Afterwards, Haruka spoke to the crowd in attendance, making some very scathing remarks that I know were directed towards me.
Paraphrasing her words, Haruka told the audience of thousands that what they just saw was an example of real coordinating. She continued to boast about her success claiming that she didn't have to brag about it, humiliate her opponent in any way or be pushy to her fellow competitors. All she had to do was let her battling and coordinating skills do the talking. She might think that speeches and campaigning like that would faze me, but she does not know Nozomi Kobashi.
I chuckle when I think about how she was able to cleverly skirt using my name in front of the crowd of over 15,000 people yet everyone in attendance knew exactly what she was talking about. The power of the spoken word can never be understated, and as I look at myself in the mirror one more time, I look at the living, breathing statement before my very eyes.
Like just about all of my other contests in the past, I have dressed to the nines in a caped tuxedo. This particular number includes a gold suit flowing all the way down to my lower ankles along with a white shirt with thin gold pinstripes, matching gold pants and shoes and a striped gold and silver tie. Turning around twice in front of the mirror, I have to give myself and commissioner Kenmanson a 'thumbs up'. It was his suggestion about two weeks or so ago for me to wear something fitting of richness and value seeing as I would be the golden boy—or in my case, girl, of pokemon coordinating. And, again, Nicholas thought it would be a good idea for me to make a grand statement in front of a mass audience.
"Well, this makes for more than just a statement," I speak. "Although I think when I walk out there, people might confuse me with the golden goose." Shrugging off any such comparisons, I reach into the breast pocket of my suit and pull out my favorite accessory of all time in my sunglasses. Putting them on, although it may sound weird to those that don't know me, I feel almost invincible. I feel like nothing can touch or harm me. I feel more confident knowing that people can't see the two rustic brown windows to my soul. The world is cooler when you put on a pair of sunglasses, and not just because your eyes are shaded from the sun, either.
I don't think I can prepare myself any further for this turning point in my coordinating career, so I gather myself one final time by taking a deep breath, and I open the door to enter the lobby backstage and I find about 10 or 15 different coordinators gathered near my private dressing room looking at me with indescribable looks. I can't tell exactly what they are saying with this body language, because it appears to be a mix of people wondering why I am getting so many perks for doing very little in my career so far and people wanting to tear into me like I really was the golden goose.
One thing I never claim to be is naïve. I know that all of the current gossip amongst several of my peers has to do with why I have gotten all of this special treatment for this pay-per-view when I'm not even a part of the main event, which is between former Grand Festival champion, Saori and the city's gym leader, Jiro in a best three out of five bout.
The commissioner gave me my own dressing room and when word got out about it to the other participants this morning, from what I heard from several whispers backstage, a couple of coordinators wanted to make my time here in Pewter City nothing short of a difficult experience, believing that I didn't deserve any of these perks.
I decide to pay this no mind and I walk to the backstage portion of the arena without saying anything to these gullible fools, though I did hear Haruka press me a bit hoping that I heard her comments from earlier in the broadcast. I just ignore this firm conservative and go to the pay-per-view producer to get any final instructions prior to going out there and beginning my match with Naoshi. Basically, I'm being told to just try not to have any slip ups getting to the stage, listen to the referees in charge and have a great match. I give the producer the 'okay' symbol and wait for a cue to enter the arena floor and walk out to the stage.
This time alone with just me and my thoughts gives me ample opportunity to think about how things progressed during this day. Things during this pay-per-view broadcast remind me a bit too much of that now infamous day back in October when I set this entire plan into motion. Back then, just like now, nobody would talk to me…with one glaring exception.
For perhaps the third time in about five minutes this afternoon, I've attempted to sit down and eat my lunch with a few other coordinators, but as I sit down to eat just about anywhere, the group of people around me get up and go to other tables, giving me the cold shoulder in the process.
I sweat drop realizing that this is in all likelihood my fate if I am to continue with the master plan of a major league rivalry with Hikari. I will just have to deal with people not appreciating what I am doing for this sport.
"You can sit here if you want to," a female voice quietly speaks. It's so quiet, that it takes me about three seconds to spot this girl's voice, but when I do, I could have been floored by a calm wind.
I need to adjust my eyes and make sure that I'm seeing things correctly. Is this really her? She has red-brown hair like she did, her skin is pearl white like hers was and those beautiful cobalt blue eyes remind me so much of her. If this is who I think she is, then she hasn't lost an ounce of her feminine charm or modesty. She dresses as unassuming as ever with a pleated orange ankle-length skirt, a sleeveless yellow blouse and her large orange purse. My thoughts are so clouded with the idea that she might have come back into my life once more that I neglect to respond to her request to sit next to her and eat.
"Hello there," she says to me trying to get my attention once again. "I asked if you would like to sit with me." This time she succeeds and I tell her that I'd be glad to sit with her and have lunch. She was sitting with absolutely nobody, and if I tried to find anyone else to sit with, they would likely avoid me like the plague.
Once I sit down with her, I get a closer look at the girl sitting next to me. She is very charming looking like the person I'm thinking of used to be, and quite frankly, I am on pins and needles wanting to know if she is who I think she is.
"Oh, forgive my rudeness, Nozomi," she speaks hesitantly while eating her meal of pork, rice and seaweed. I'm not surprised that she knows my name in the least bit. I'm quite popular these days, but I wonder for what reason this girl knows my name. "I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Brianna Coby. I'm a coordinator here in the Kanto region, but I've been really trying to make my mark in a few other areas. I'm gonna be competing in the pregame battle tonight against Sandra. I'm gonna be in what's essentially the warm-up match before television."
Mystery solved. It isn't her. No matter, though. It was a huge stretch to think that she and I would cross paths again. I laugh at how we as people can often find familiar faces in the most unique of places and I inform Brianna, "My name is Nozomi Kobashi, as you already know. Umm, can I tell you something kind of funny that you might get a kick out of?"
Not knowing where to begin, I start with the word "I…" and leave the starting point open ended. "I have seen your face before. I know that might sound creepy, but when I was about six years old, I was a top gymnast and one of my teammates from the same troop looked exactly like you. She was from France, though, and a name like Brianna Coby doesn't scream 'French' like her name, which was Marie-Claire Bodan."
"That's a beautiful name," Brianna remarks, "and let me also say that…I never did picture a girl like you ever wanting to be a gymnast. I don't know. I've seen some of your work and your appeals before and…no offense, but you look more like a boy than most of the boys."
"Ah, none taken," I reply back to Brianna with more than a passing chuckle and I'm really enjoying talking to this girl a lot. I take no offense to the gender bending remark, because I've heard it so many times before, even from my own family members that I've become used to it. "But," as I explain to Brianna, "a lot of men have succeeded in gymnastics before. What about Paul and Morgan Hamm?"
"Okay," Brianna says, "but the big stars like your Mary Lou Retton's, Shannon Miller's, Nadia Comaneci's and the like were all girls." Damn. She's smart, too. "That's why I chose coordinating, aside from the fact that it's run in the family for several generations. Historically, girls have been coordinators and I was naturally going to be next in line, but…I just…things haven't clicked for me like they did for my mom and my aunt several years back." Brianna brings her head down for a moment before she admits, "I want to be successful, Nozomi, but I really don't know if coordinating is my thing."
I feel for Brianna right now. There was a bleak time in my own life when I doubted myself and my abilities after the accident involving my broken leg, but what got me to believe in myself and regain my confidence was some good advice from an unlikely source. In the vein of paying it forward, I give this girl in need some sound advice of my own, and I place my hand on the girl's shoulder.
"Brianna," I begin, "you know, you are in a unique position. You can be whatever you want to as a coordinator or…whatever. I know you've probably heard that more times than you can count, but it's true. I know what it feels like to have pressure from your family to succeed. My father, who passed away when I was only seven years old, was also my gymnastics coach. And I try to tell people all the time, he was a fantastic father. He didn't push me to become a great gymnast or a great anything. He did give me tough love a lot of times, but looking back at it, I don't think I would have had it any other way. His discipline shaped me into who I am today."
I stop for a bit. I'm sure that I have gone too far. "Brianna? I'm sorry. I'm sure you don't want to hear about my sob story. And here I am trying to cheer you up."
"No, no," she defends. "It's fine! You did help me. You were opening up to me when you really didn't have to. You were sharing. That what friends do, right?"
I have to admit that I am taken aback by what she just said. Did she call me a…friend? 'That's what friends do,' were the words that just came out of her mouth, so that's right, but forgive me if I'm the type of person that likes to hear something like this from the horse's mouth. "Brianna? Was there any particular reason why you let me sit with you at your table?" I decide for now that I won't directly ask her, and instead opt to see where this question leads. After all, I am quite curious as to why out of about 50 coordinators, she was the only one that would let me sit with her.
Brianna looks over to me and says, "Well, I don't think you're anywhere near as bad as Haruka and Shuu claim that you are. They actually had an unplanned meeting of the other coordinators this morning and said that no one should talk or associate themselves with you because that would be a sign of selling out. They think that you are more style than substance and that you're bad for the sport."
'Judging me before they even get to know me. How class, Haruka and Shuu.' Obviously, I'm being sarcastic with my thoughts, and as I explain to the aspiring coordinator, "Those two don't even have a damn clue about who I am or what people like to see. I know it, and I can tell when I go out there for battles or appeals that people are begging to see something new, different and exciting. It's not selling out, it's called good business, which is exactly what this and every sport is; a business. We sell the product of pokemon coordinating to the people watching on television and going to contests and pay-per-views. Our audience chooses to either buy into it or not and as coordinators, it is our job to make sure that the people say 'yes'. That's what Commissioner Nicholas Kenmanson told me some time ago."
"Wow!" Brianna interjects excitedly. "You actually talk to the new commissioner?"
"Every now and then," I smile back to Brianna.
"I think it's cool that someone so high ranking takes the time to speak with coordinators," she admits to me, "though I wonder if he'd ever take the time to speak to someone like me."
"Sure he would!" I assure the confidence-lacking girl sitting with me. "You just have to believe that you are just a little bit audacious enough to make some kind of a difference in this line of work. Brianna, there's an old proverb and it states that one good or great idea will lend you many lifetimes of success."
"That's just the thing!" Brianna rebuts loudly. "I don't have any good ideas like you do. I have a few good pokemon that have given me a respectable level of success with my peers, but I haven't been to any Grand Festivals because the most ribbons I've won in any region is three and you need five just to get to the Grand Festival. I don't know. It's just…my mom and my aunt were both great coordinators, even though neither of them won a Grand Festival and together, they have over 100 ribbons. I don't think I could ever top that kind of success." I see a tear come out of her left eye, and something inside me tells me to act. I have no handkerchief, but what I do have is the napkin that came with my lunch and I use it to wipe away her tear.
"Don't worry," I tell her. "Don't think about topping them. All you need is a little encouragement just like the rest of us. I'm sure there's something inside of you just waiting to come out." Brianna looks up to me after I give her a light pat on the back and sees my smile along with the rest of my welcoming glaze. It takes a minute or two, but I'm finally able to see that beautiful and classy smile on her face. It reminds me so much of Marie-Claire, it's almost disturbing.
"Thank you, Nozomi," Brianna says, regaining her composure.
I don't know what it was, but something inside of me tells me to say to the modest girl, "Please, call me Zoey."
"Zoey," she repeats. "Zoey Kobashi. I think it fits you well. Something about you is just so…appealing and full of life, and I also like the fact that you aren't afraid to speak your mind. I may not agree with everything you say, especially the things about Hikari, but everything that you say does have substance and a message behind it. And I don't agree with Haruka and Shuu saying that you're nothing but talk. I wish I could be like that and speak my mind and back it up on the battlefields, but I always end up stammering and looking foolish in the process. Also, I don't think that you deserve to be ostracized just because someone in power finds favor in you and what you do. If they want to change that, then they should speak up or make their own mark."
Brianna stops speaking for a moment. I think she might be nervous about something, but I'm no mind reader. "I'd…I'd like to be friends with you, Nozomi, if that's alright. I think you might have been wondering about why I called you 'friend', right?"
"Yeah," I speak. "That did cross my mind. And…I would like to be friends. That'd be real nice. I haven't had a real good friend in a while, and I don't think I'll find anyone else here willing to even get near me." Looking around, I see the other tables of my fellow coordinators chowing down on their food and a few of them leaving to go back to their rooms. The few that looked up to see Brianna and I eating together quickly turned away from us if we caught them staring.
For two hours after we decided to become friends, Brianna and I spent the next two hours talking. I learned that Brianna's mother is Stella Mae Coby, one of the most renowned coordinators in the history of the Johto region during her heyday. Stella had help and guidance in her older sister and Brianna's aunt Michaela Coby, another great coordinator. They were some of the first coordinators to stress style, color, fluidness and vivacity in their appeals, while at the same time battling in contests as if they were competing in the Pokemon league.
People like to talk about how coordinators in the Sinnoh region like to dress up for contests, but truth be told, that is a relatively new phenomenon that didn't begin until about the 1970s; the same decade that both Michaela and Stella Mae had their greatest level of success. Seeing some pictures of them, I can tell how coordinators like Ayako, who made her greatest splash during the 1980s and early 1990s, Hikari and just about any other modern coordinator could be inspired from these two mavericks of the sport.
"Nozomi? Hello?" a voice sounds out, kicking me out of my unconscious thoughts. I shake my head for a bit before the producer tells me that it's time for me to go out on stage. I thank him and I walk out in front of the arena filled with thousands of GFCA fans booing me with resounding fervor. I think I'm starting to hear the chants of 'Zoey Sucks!' once more.
I smile. They hate me so much, and it's a beautiful thing, too, because I got just what I want…and what I need.
A/N: 'Sharing' is back! Part two should be coming very soon, and you now see why I have much shorter chapters. I'm able to update quickly and cover various topics one at a time. In the next chapter, which Hikari will be narrating for the most part, see how Nozomi does in her battle against Naoshi, what makes this Marie-Claire stand out so much in Nozomi's mind and doesn't Hikari have a battle of her own to attend to in this pay-per-view? Find out more about what I mean later!
Also, Nozomi asks both Brianna and Commissioner Kenmanson for something, but what is this 'something'? All this is coming in chapter nine, so please read and review!
Until next time, it's been Rave!