world – game
characters –
roark, byron
genres –
notes – I've skimmed through the anime and manga's (DP adventures) interpretations of this relationship, and went another way with this. Also, would anyone want me to cover the Unova gym leaders/e4 too? Suggestions for pairings are welcome, but bear in mind that I'm open to writing friendship/family based combinations as well (:

Cobble: Byron and Roark

1. to mend (shoes, boots, etc.); patch.
2. to put together roughly or clumsily.

When Roark is still young enough to sit on his father's shoulders and pretend he's riding a bastiodon, he asks: "When can I take over the gym, dad?"

Byron chuckles. It's a loud, warm sound that makes the boy laugh too because he can feel his father shaking. "When you're older, son," is the reply, and Roark had been contented with that just then, happy enough knowing that day would come.

When Roark's fifth baby tooth falls, just after he gets his first pokémon, he thinks he's ready. Geodude revolves around him, fists pumping the air and making encouraging noises as they rise up on the magnetic elevators of his father's gym. The gym trainers are like obstacles to avoid and conquer – the boys like to call him 'champ' and ask boring conversational questions (so, what'd you do in school today?) while the girls make a habit of pinching his cheeks and cooing.

He finally reaches the top floor where his father is standing, tall and sturdy just like his steel pokémon.

"Look at this, dad! I taught Geodude how to use Rock Smash!" Roark proudly proclaims, gesturing to his pokémon, who is more than eager to show off his strength, crushing an idle boulder Byron had left behind from a previous skirmish with a trainer. "Can I start training to take over the gym yet?" Roark asks, expectant and hopeful and everything a child can't be blamed for.

"Not yet, not yet, you have to start behavin' like a man first!" Byron instructs him, smacking a hand on his scrawny shoulder. He twirls his son around and sends him down the elevator, and the young boy ends up down on the first floor. He cranes his neck, staring up at the figure of his father, with his ratty cape rippling behind him like a superhero.

The next time Roark falls and scrapes his knee, he doesn't cry. He swallows the tears with the pain and tries to emanate heroic courage, standing back onto his feet and raising his chin, righting his crooked spectacles. His father isn't around to notice, though.

It's only when he has two pokémon, Geodude and Onix – friends and fighters and the fiercest things he's ever known –, does he realise that his father has been giving his Rock-type pokémon to train.

Byron puts an orange helmet on his head, just for safety. "And for good luck, too," the father grins, rapping his knuckles against his son's head. Roark smiles involuntarily, before snapping out of the momentary distraction. "Dad, I should be training steel-type pokémon, shouldn't I?" he questions his father, fingers toying with the straps of his new helmet, a tad too large for his head.

"No, no, you've got a talent with rock-types, I can tell," Byron insists. "I'll lend you some of my pokémon when you're older."

Roark is barely just young enough to be willing to believe his father.

Roark is a teenager, and he's learned to stop asking his father about handing down the gym.

The past few years have been spent training on Iron Island and going to school and memorizing the schedule of the dock's ships so he knows when he can sleep at night and when he should get up in the morning, without the bellow of the horn startling him awake. He counts the wingulls on the ports and figures that there's about fifty of them. One year, after winter, when they return, he counts fifty-two and asks himself why he's doing this again.

Onix's growls are low and concerned sometimes, when Roark forgets about his responsibilities and thinks about childhood dreams that have turned stale. When he goes into the gym, the gym trainers don't treat him like they used to. They nod their heads and smile tightly and Roark wonders if he's changed. He's stopped pestering his father about becoming a gym leader – stopped pestering anyone about anything in general.

The only thing Byron teaches him is about excavation, and Roark memorizes all the little things. He learns how to identify granite from limestone, the formation of the stalagmites in the caves, how to dig out fossils without damaging them. He understands the best way to use a shovel is to dig deep and then – heave ho (!). He knows the maze of Iron Island like the back of his hand, though he still needs his helmet to light the way. He revives his own cranidos and it happily joins Onix and Geodude – another rock-type, another pokémon ineligible for the title of a steel-type gym leader.

The only thing he never learns is how to make his father proud.

"If I beat you in a gym match, you have to at least consider letting me try out for gym leader," Roark says. He doesn't like how timid he sounds, but he can't help it. He's in his father's gym again, at the top floor, hoping and hoping that he won't be sent back down to the ground again.

Byron chuckles, in the same way he always has. He nods his head, but doesn't exactly listen.

"You're still a kid, Roark. Wait for yourself to grow up, son," Byron talks like he understands his son, but he'd stopped understanding when Roark had been seven, maybe eight. Roark isn't brave enough to tell the man standing in front of him, not now and maybe not ever. He only nods and feels his father's dusty hand pat the helmet on his head.

He moves halfway across the region, just to show how much he's grown.

But in the end, in the silence of the mines, Roark wonders if he's still just a small child waiting for a father's approval.