Random little one-shot that explains why Paul is the way he is, because all jerks have to start somewhere, right? Don't get me wrong, I don't mind him, because his style of battling does reflect how we play the game, but sometimes, I just want to kick him in the 'nads because he can be a jerkwad. Too bad he was only in the Sinnoh saga; I would have loved to see him grow as a character in the Unova saga coming up. Oh well.
He was only six when he remembered his mother going away. Sitting in the courtroom, he felt so small and helpless as the judge made his ruling. He remembered the phrase 'unfit parent' but otherwise, everything else the judge said was a blur. He remembered his mother screaming and calling out to Reggie and him, and the bailiffs dragging her away from the two small boys. He clutched his Ursaring doll closer, the stuffed object serving some modicum of stability in the chaos. Reggie gave him a tight hug, whispering "It's going to be okay. Mommy will come back."
Later that night, he had bad dreams. Of seeing the needle in his mother's hand, the judge looming over him like a mountain and him stuck in the middle in a sea of garish reds, white powder and his father going away. He went into Reggie's room, hoping to feel better. IT was right next door to his, allowing him easy access. He slowly pushed the door and tip-toed inside. The moon was out, peeking though the closed window blinds. At least Paul had the nightlight to go by; Reggie was always messy. He shook his brother, who was sleeping soundly. "Reggie, Reggie," he whispered. "I can't sleep. I had a bad dream." He still had a little difficulty pronouncing his ''r's, so they sounded a little like "w's".
Reggie slowly got up, rubbing his eyes groggily. "What's the matter?"
"I had a bad dream. Can I stay with you?"
Reggie got up. "Um, okay sure." Paul crawled up on the bed, dragging his old worn Ursaring doll with him. "What's the matter Paul?"
"I said I had a bad dream," Paul said, crossing his arms, still holding the stuffed pokemon. Despite being only six, he was more aware of his surroundings than other five-year-olds.
"Mommy and Daddy going away." Paul fought a sniffle as he recalled the dream. "Why did mommy go away?"
Reggie sighed; he knew this was coming. "Mommy did some bad things Paul. And sometimes, mommies and daddies don't love each other any more, so they have to... um, go away." It was much harder to explain divorce than he thought.
"Does Mommy not love us any more?" Paul asked, sadness creeping in his eyes.
Reggie pulled him close into a hug, fighting the tears; children always had a way of getting to the point. Mustering all the solemnity a ten year old could, he said, "Of course Mommy loves us Paul. She just...she just has to go away for a little vacation, until she feels better, because she feels bad, like when you get a tummy ache."
"Oh," Paul looked down at his stuffed Ursaring. "Daddy loves us too, right?"
"Yep, and he'll love us even more to make up for mommy."
Paul nodded, as if this were some great revelation. "Are you going to be a Pokemon trainer when you grow up?"
"Why that question Paul?"
"Because I wanna be just like you."
"So you want to be a trainer?"
"Nope." Paul shook his head. "I wanna be the best in the whole wide world!" He spread his arms out to empathize his point the teddy bear still clutched tightly in one hand.
"And I'm sure you will."
"You promise you will see us when you go away to be a trainer?"
Paul stuck out a hand, pinkie finger extended. "Pinkie promise."
"Okay." Reggie shook pinkies with his younger brother. "I pinkie promise. Now, you should go to bed."
"But you said I could stay with you," Paul whined.
"Okay, okay." Reggie held up his hands in mock surrender. "Just don't be too loud. You don't want to wake up Daddy."
Paul nodded, putting one finger over his lips. "Okie-dookie." He snuggled under Reggie's covers and closed his eyes, snoring loudly, pretending to be asleep. Reggie smiled faintly at his brother, who was pretending so Reggie couldn't kick him out, even though Reggie wouldn't dream of it. His brother was everything to him.
Night Paulie," he whispered, using his mother's pet name for Paul. His father hated it, but he didn't mind, and he bet that Paul didn't mind it either.
It wasn't until Reggie was eleven when he left for his journey. They had moved in the past year, to a small town in Sinnoh, near Veilstone City, near his Aunt Hattie. It seemed that his father wanted to put as much distance between Reggie and Paul from their mother, claiming her a bad influence. Paul remembered how he sat outside, watching Reggie leave for his journey, his piplup at his side. Paul was only seven, but he knew what being a trainer was.
"Just like his old man," his father chuckled, ushering him inside. "Soon, you'll be on your journey and maybe be able to beat him."
"You're your father's son. Of course you will." Little did Paul realize that with Reggie leaving, his life was to change, and not for the better.
His father was once a Pokemon champion in two regions, challenging the Elite Four twice, but failing both times. He vowed that his sons would not fail like him and it would be that Paul, once shielded by his brother, was to be the brunt at his father's 'teachings'. His father wouldn't tolerate failure, and neither would Paul, he claimed. Teachings about pokemon and school were constant, as the young kid was pushed to the limit, oftentimes staying up past midnight, to get his work done. If he failed, whether it was at school or with his chores, his father would punish him, call him worthless. His father never hit him though, thankfully. Paul had seen children once or twice, hiding bruises and cuts and he didn't want to be like them. TV was no longer allowed, nor videogames, nor sports. They would detract from Paul's learning his father claimed. To be the best, you had to push yourself to the limit, exceeding expectations that others set for. Maybe then you can 'relax'. But Paul could never exceed his father's expectations, thanks to his brother Reggie. He didn't resent Reggie's achievements, but he started to see Reggie as a rival, not a brother. He had no friends, no after school activities, for his father had decided to home-school him, limiting contact from the outside world, save for the letters from Reggie.
His father was proud of Reggie, for accelerating in the pokemon world, sometimes even being compared to his father. Maybe, Paul realized, that was what his father really wanted; to be recognized in the pokemon world once again after his attempts at the Elite Four. Reggie was the shining jewel of the family, Paul was the second, ready to replace Reggie if needed and his father always reminded him of that.
"But I don't want to be better than Reggie. I want to be me," he protested.
"And then what will you be? A Coordinator? A Breeder?" his father sneered. "Battling runs in your blood and you will be better off in this world remembering that."
"But maybe I don't want to be a trainer!" Paul shouted. It was the only time his father had hit him. The red mark on his cheek was prominent for three days afterward.
Then Reggie came home and Paul was elated to hear of Reggie's tales, see his pokemon. Paul had just received his starter, a turtwig and was eager to start on his journey. However, he would always make time for Reggie. Reggie proudly showed off his team of pokemon and the many badges he had earned, including the Battle Frontier Symbols.
"I don't have the last one yet," Reggie. "The last one is Brandon and the Brave Symbol. He's in Kanto so I was going to challenge him there. I thought that I could make a little side-trip before I got there."
"Cool!" Paul exclaimed. "Can I come and watch? Please? Pretty please?"
"I don't see why not," their father shrugged. "It would be good for him to experience a real battle. I can't go though. I have stuff to attend to."
"Awesome! Thanks Dad!" Paul paused slightly as he said those words. He hadn't thanked his father for anything since Reggie had left. Maybe things have changed.
The trip to Kanto was uneventful and the pair reached the Pyramid. Paul sat on the sidelines, anxious to see his brother trounce the Pyramid King as he did the other Frontier Brains. But instead, he watched in horror as each and every one of Reggie's pokemon went down, unable to fight the sheer power of Brandon's Regirock without even breaking a sweat. Reggie knelt down to the ground, shell shocked, holding his pokballs in his hands. He was once the best, and now he was the failure.
"Don't be so downhearted," Brandon said, kneeling next to the stunned Reggie. " You just need to find your inner strength, that's all. Knowing that will give you the key to victory, even if you lose. Inner strength is the most powerful tool in your arsenal to have. Do not be ashamed. You fought bravely and you will always have the chance to come back here again, I promise."
Reggie looked up, then shook his head. "I don't think I'll come back here, not for a while at least." he paused. "You taught me that...that I still have a lot to learn."
"Everybody has a lot to learn," Brandon chuckled. "You should go to see your brother. He looks upset."
Meanwhile, Paul shook his head in disbelief. How could his brother, one of the finest trainers around, lose to Brandon, who used only one pokemon nonetheless. His brother was his idol and now, he was like his father said, a failure. He realized that now he would have to train even harder now, to be his father's pride and joy, while trying not to become like Reggie. "Father's going to be upset," he realized. "Poor Reggie. I don't want to be in his shoes right now."
And Paul's assumptions were correct. Paul immediately went to his room when they got home, hiding from the tempest that was sure to come. He kept one ear to his closed door, just in case. When they returned home, his father wanted to see the Brave Symbol, gleaming in all its glory. He placed Reggie shook his head. "I'm sorry dad," he whispered, choking at the words. "I don't have it."
"What do you mean, 'you don't have it'?"
"I lost to Brandon."
"How could you lose!" his father screamed. "You won the other Symbols, why not this one!"
"Well maybe because they didn't use a freaking Legendary!" Reggie screamed. "Guess you didn't see that one coming, huh?"
"I trained you to adapt to your situation, to be the best! Not. To. Lose!"
"Well I'm sorry that we all can't be perfect like you dad!"
"Don't you dare talk to me that way Reginald!"
"I can if I want too! I tried, can't you be happy with that!" As Paul heard that, he flinched. He had never heard his brother so, angry before. Reggie had always been happy-go-lucky, looking on the bright side of things. And now, now Reggie was different. "Maybe I was never cut out for battling!"
"Battling is in your blood-"his father began.
"Don't give me that crap! Have you ever considered that I wanted to be something else?"
"Like what?" his father asked coolly. The tone sent a shiver down Paul's spine. Paul sank to the door, feeling helpless. With Reggie's 'failure', he was now expected to take the 'mantle' so to speak. He sank down the door, head resting on his knees. His turtwig, still a hatchling, came up and nudged him on the shin, offering comfort. The young trainer gave Turtwig a scratch on the head.
"I promise I won't let you down father, Reggie. I'll find my inner strength and show to you that I'm not just a shadow, but I can be me, not you father, not you Reggie." He closed his eyes and listened to the rest of the conversation.
". . .A breeder! No son of mine is going to be a breeder! A breeder is nothing but a trainer who quits! That's what you are Reggie! A quitter! A failure!"
"Then fine, so what if I'm a failure! At least I'll be happy and be away from you!" Paul heard Reggie storm out of the living room, his foot steps leaving. A tear leaked from the corner of Paul's eye. Reggie wasn't a failure, he was the best trainer he had seen. He was Paul's only friend and his idol and now that idol was shattered, in more ways than one. A short while later, late that night, Paul heard a knock at the door, three raps and a kick. It was Reggie's secret door knock, the one that they had created when they were younger. Reggie entered the room. It appeared that he had been crying. Reggie took Paul in a sweeping hug. Turtwig hid under Paul's desk.
"Promise me that you'll never be like dad," Reggie sobbed. "Promise me that you'll never be like that monster."
"Too late for that Reggie," Paul thought, but nodded anyway. "I promise."
Paul rolled his eyes at the childish gesture, but he felt his heart twinge from the memory from when he was six. "Okay." The pair linked pinkies and Reggie broke it off, sitting on Paul's bed edge. He grabbed the old Ursaring doll that sat next to his pillow, the brown fur dirty and pale with time and abuse.
"You still have this?"
"Hey!" Paul reached for the bear and snatched it. Paul shoved it under the bed, a gesture he saw later as a symbolic one.
"I was just messing with you Paulie," he laughed, trying to ease the tension.
"Don't call me 'Paulie'," Paul growled and Reggie could see the pang of hurt in his eyes.
"Sorry Paul. Guess I was trying to make myself feel better." Reggie sighed. "So much for ' the training prodigy'."
"Don't be mad," Paul sat down next to him. "Dad just wants up to be famous so he can be famous again."
Reggie gave a wan smile. "Don't let him hear you say that."
"I honestly don't care at this point." Paul flopped down on the bed, exhausted in more ways than one. A lengthy pause stretched between them "So," Paul finally began. "Now what?"
"I don't know," Reggie said. "I still want to be a breeder though. Aunt Hattie has a huge place just outside of Veilstone. I was thinking that I would live there and be a breeder there. Aunt Hattie would let me be what I want to be ."
"What about dad? He would know you were there."
"Not if you don't tell him."
"You want me to keep it a secret?"
"That's a big, painful duh." Reggie flopped down beside him. "In all seriousness, I want you to keep it a secret from dad. He doesn't care what we want, only what he wants. It's like you said, he's living through us vicariously." He smiled at Paul. "You promise that you won't be like Dad?"
"I already said yes." But Paul knew that Reggie's wish wouldn't come true, but he wanted Reggie to be happy.
Reggie fought against a new stream of tears. "I'm sorry Paul."
"I should've protected you from Dad." I thought that he would leave you alone, but now I see that he made you into my replacement if I screw up. You never got the chance to do things that kids should do, to dream, to play, to be themselves, not clones of their brothers and fathers. I'm so sorry Paul."
"Don't apologize," Paul growled. "Stuff happens and you couldn't have known, so stop groveling. I won't be like him so you don't need to worry. And when I'm gone, neither of us will have to worry about Dad."
Reggie nodded and got up, feeling reassured. " I guess I better let you get to bed. We both have a long day tomorrow, you with your journey and mine with my new one."
"Yeah. Night Reggie," Paul said.
"Night Paulie," Reggie smiled and shut the door behind him, noting that Paul didn't say anything.
When Reggie left, Paul reached under his bed and pulled out the Ursaring doll. He gave it one more squeeze, as if to squeeze all the memories out of it. He placed it aside, back to its original place. "I guess it's okay one more night," he thought before closing his eyes.
Eight years later...
"How could you lose to him!" Paul stood impassive as his father berated him. "You were almost to the semi-finals and you lost to some punk! You trained for this and you threw it away!" Spittle flew from the man's mouth. Paul said nothing, only watching with cool black eyes. He struggled though, to keep the feelings inside that were threatening to burst. "You're nothing but a failure! Exactly like your brother! Are you going to become a Breeder like him? A quitter like him!"
Paul finally lost it. "Reggie is not a quitter or a loser! Just shut up! Just shut up Dad I'm not a quitter and neither is Reggie! That 'punk' is one of the best trainers I have ever faced and you know what, I'm glad that I lost to him because unlike you, he actually taught me something! I'm not you and I will never be you! You won;t use me to get some cheap thrill when I win, because your glory days are over and you need your next fix for fame, just like when mother needed her fix! You're addicted to fame like a druggie and I will no longer be the needle to give you that drug! Once upon a time, I admired you, even trained my pokemon like you did, but now I see that that got you nowhere, except as some wanna be. Now, I wish I hadn't. I done with you and your stupid games!" Paul turned away from him and opened the door. "Good bye and good riddance!" He slammed the door behind him.
And as he walked down that dusty road, he realized that he hadn't broken his promise to Reggie after all, that he never became the monster like his father.
He was himself.
And now we know, sort of, since it is FFN. Many thanks to Bulbapedia for the background info I needed on Reggie and Paul, especially with the part about Brandon. The piplup I gave Reggie was totally fanon, because we have no idea what Reggie's Sinnoh starter was and if you think about it, Paul would have chosen a pokemon that could beat Reggie, so he could prove himself. And I think we all know who the 'punk' is lol.
Thanks to all who review this!