No excuses this time, life just seems to get in the way, as well as other matters. =) Thank you to all who continue to follow, favorite and review this story. You guys are truly awesome and I appreciate it more than you'll ever know. Shout out to Gyarados' rage, however, because that PM of yours damn near made me cry. Thank you very much for your support and I'm glad you enjoy the fic! As I may have stated, I do have a Tumblr now, and it's rather sporadically updated, but it's there if you're interested in seeing some behind the scenes/author crack, headcanon memes, and other fandom and other silliness. On occasion, there will be fic that is posted there, but not to Ffnet.
There is a moment in a man's life where one must establish himself superior over another, usually in the form of some kind of competition or other distinguished form of "I will win, and you will lose" nonsense that we, as humans, are supposed to enjoy. Usually, this matter is solved physically, a practice I am most displeased by and hold great disdain for. However, there are moments where a test of willpower between two individuals is usually enough, a matter of eye contact in which one must break first in order to be considered the inferior out of the two.
I am not sure if this is one of those moments now, but I am certainly not dropping my gaze from this young upstart's own. I will not be intimidated by the intensity in his eyes, nor by the distinctive feeling that he has seen something within me that he dislikes. Immensely, at that. There is something about him that is familiar, that reminds me of Touko in some manner. I cannot place my finger on it exactly, but there is a resemblance that is more than physical.
"...N? N?" Touko's voice is sharp in my ears and my vision of suspicious brown eyes is suddenly replaced by a pair of furious but concerned eyes the color of a summer sky. I blink immediately, startled by the rapid change in face as well as color and find myself taking a step backwards, gaining a little distance between us. I realize only a moment later, as I half-listen to her concerns and insistences about checking to see if anything is broken, damaged or what have you from where I was struck, that I retreated from her.
I backed down from a challenge, again.
What was it with this young woman?
"I'm alright, bruises, nothing more." I reassure her, once she allows me to get in a word edgewise. My eyes flick to Touya, who is no longer looking in my direction, but to where I can hear sirens heading our way. I do not care for the law enforcement, they allow many criminals to run free. Team Rocket, Team Magma, Team Aqua and Team Galactic... all of them, fools who can't even be contained by those who claim to fight against their terrorist reign. Some aid they are, never once have the police been the ones to disband and aid in their downfall- it's always been by the least likely source; a child, or young teenager who takes them down single handed.
Although, I must admit, it is nice being fussed over and worried about in this way. Touko has finally done something I find very comforting in its familiarity; it's a young woman's job to be concerned over a hero when they are injured. And, after all, I am a hero, and I was injured.
You're an idiot for being pleased about that. Zorua mutters as he sidles up to me, giving me a critical look before deciding against leaping up on my shoulder. Concordia and Anthea are going to be upset, you know. You're gonna get scolded. He sounds remarkably pleased about that too, as if he wants me to get scolded. I give him a sideways look in response. I must have upset him a lot more than I'd meant to, I'll have to apologize to him when we're alone again. Aqua eyes look to Touko, and then to Touya. ...I guess they aren't bad, for humans anyway. He informs me with a snort.
High praise from Zorua, that's for certain. Then again, he always was impressed when it came to violence and those capable of causing it. Perhaps it was their willingness to inflict harm in my defense that he was pleased with, or that they were willing to stand and fight against an opponent much bigger than they were.
I will have to ask him later, for clarification's sake.
"I should go," I look to Touko. "will you be staying to file the report or shall I walk you back to the Pokemon Center?" There's a stern note in my voice, heavily implying my displeasure with her presence out at this time of night. I won't even get into how annoyed I feel at having her in that dangerous type of situation. She and Touya exchange a look, one that is rather identical in appearance before she makes a face and says something to him that I don't quite catch.
"Take Touya home, will you?" She says finally, the boy mentioned has his eyes on the ground, fingers tugging his baseball cap down to hide his eyes. "He doesn't need to stick around for this." A pause as she stares at the unconscious men with an irritated look on her face. A moment later, she looks back at me. "And go to a hospital after that, you might have broken ribs." Saying it aloud seems to piss her off more, and she glares at the closest thug as if she's tempted to kick him. "I'll take care of this part, though Burgh's probably gonna tease me."
He does any such thing and I'll squash him like a roach beneath my heel.
I nod to her, reluctant to leave her to face the incompetence of the local police department alone, but willing to allow her to give me the opportunity to slip away without running into Burgh's obnoxious back up. Gym leaders and their ties with police, I thought with disgust as Touya and I head off. I have little idea where this boy lives, so I allow him to somewhat lead the way. It gives me a better chance to study him, after all, and I'm still trying to figure out what it is about him that I don't quite like, but is oddly appealing in the same irritating way that Touko has.
"Why are you stalking Touko?"
I'm admittedly caught off guard by the question, direct and to the point as it is. Coming from the oddly quiet young man, it seemed almost out of character, a tone that suggest my answer is quite important.. and that there were repercussions should I answer incorrectly. "I'm not 'stalking' her, as you put it," I finally tell him, stopping for a moment to catch my breath. My back is starting to tighten. I may need Concordia and Anthea's services more than I initially anticipated, and sooner too. "we were traveling companions, I escorted her here earlier this afternoon."
It's my turn, since I'm not going to let him think he's in control of this situation. If I'm smart, I can get a good deal of information out of this young boy that will be useful to me. Perhaps, just perhaps, I will gain some insight into some of her peculiar behavior. "You called her 'sis', didn't you? Are you also traveling as a Pokemon Trainer?" A useful distraction, though I am sure he will return to the subject of Touko soon enough.
He remains suspicious, but it is of no concern of mine from this point forward. I breathe a shallow sigh of relief once the boy is out of sight in his home, turning away and heading to meet up with Zorua, who hopefully brought Concordia and Anthea with him, on the outskirts of the city. On my way, I consider the options I have, with the new information that boy has given me.
Touya is no trainer, not yet, though he is working hard to attain that goal. The two of them are related through their father, a man, by the way his body language and tone changed, was likely not the most reliable figure in their lives. By the snippet of conversation we exchanged, and his general sadness I could feel when we approached the building he lived in, his mother is not exactly fond of Touko, and the two rarely get to see one another. He seems happy that I don't have her Xtransceiver information, however. I will have to question her further on this, as the situation seems delightfully complicated, and may be one I can use to my advantage in some manner. He is two, almost three years younger than she is and thinks very highly of her- something I am unsurprised by, I have seen little of her that I would not be able to praise in some way or another.
His dream is innocent and sweet, fueled by the energy and determination of a youthful spirit; he wishes to become strong enough to be able to travel around the world on a journey with her.
I am nearly to the gate leading to the desert outside Castelia when there is a familiar presence, Zorua's ears perking up and swiveling back twice to let me know he didn't find the individuals a threat. He doesn't do that for the Shadow Triad, and certainly not my father, which would mean either Touko has managed to follow me without giving herself away, or-
"Lord N?" Anthea's voice breaks through my thoughts, concern in her brown eyes as she and Concordia swiftly race to my side. They carefully hurry me down one of the paths and sit me down in the shadows of a well maintained park. My eyes and nose catch the smell of something foul, trash littering the once clean ground. Humans.
For a moment, there is the brush of night chilled fingers dancing against my bare flesh, and I despise it, tensing up as soon as contact is made. But, soon enough, there is a warmth that spreads through my body, almost hot at the place her hands gently press against the tightened muscles of my back and ribs, slowly traveling and guiding the heat to where the injuries throbbed and ached the worst. I close my eyes a moment, allowing her the time necessary to do what she needs to do without giving into the urge to pull away.
This is far from the first time she has had to lay her hands upon me in order to rid me of an injury that would set me back. I wait, hearing a small hitch in her breath and carefully pull myself away from her. Concordia is immediately at her side, taking her sister's hand and allowing her hazel gaze to unfocus. I never tire of watching the two of them work their strange abilities on each other, or on another person deemed worthy enough to receive their blessing. There is a soft hiss from her and the two of them both straighten themselves, albeit more gingerly than normal, and look to me. "Your condition?" I inquire, knowing full well their pale faces and trembling hands indicate they have used too much of themselves.
"Satisfactory, my lord." Concordia speaks first, hair a dark gold in the night air. "With rest, our recovery shall be swift." Her arm was around Anthea's waist, supporting her as much as she too was supported by the other woman. She was the one more prone to being outspoken and displaying temper, though Anthea has a way with words that would slice cleaner than any sword or blade known to mankind when she chose to use them.
Anthea's eyes looked through me, I wonder if she too is related to Touya and Touko somehow, they have a very similar stare. "My lord, your condition?" She asks, her voice more tired and toneless than Concordia's soothing one. Her weariness is to be expected; she is the one who pulls from within herself to heal others, taking on the injuries sustained in return.
Concordia's ability comes twofold; she is able to take an agitated soul and soothe it to a peaceful state of being, and she is also able to take some of Anthea's pain as well and bring it into herself. She's often the first one to speak, as I mentioned, and also the first to reach out to touch a Pokemon or human being, as it's in her nature to soothe them, to manipulate their emotions to be more agreeable- especially in the face of healing an injury.
I never would have been able to reach the hearts of some of my friends if not for them.
I straighten my back, studying my body's responses as I stretch, turn and bend in order to see its limits and how much pain remains. Very little, I realize after a time. Lingering stiffness and a tenderness as if I fell out of a tree from a short distance. No tightness, no pulling or sharp pain when I breathe deeply or move, not like I had been taking the boy home. My eyes meet Anthea's and hold her gaze until she demurely drops it, submitting instantly to my will. She has gotten stronger in the recent weeks, this could be concerning should my father find out. I do not want her being experimented on, not the way I had been. Her spirit is too gentle for that, Concordia's as well.
"I am well," I tell her, watching her expression turn from demure and expecting to pleased. She knows she is tapping into power she had felt dormant within her, I realize with a newfound sense of respect for her. She is dear to me, as is Concordia, and if she is pleased by this development, I will certainly be as well on her behalf. "only thanks to you and Concordia." Credit where it is due, I am a stern man at times, but I am just and fair; credit should be given where it is due- and it is certainly due to these two.
"Anthea has made a discovery, my lord," Concordia speaks again, her eyes flicking to her sister and back to me. "there is a school for those with developing... talents, such as ours."
A school? I feel my eyebrows raise in surprise at this news. There was no such thing in the Unova region, I have scoured the land through many means, searching for a place where Psychics trained, but have found nothing. "Where is it located?"
"Saffron City." Anthea replies quietly, awaiting my reaction.
I mull over this information carefully. Kanto was some distance away, where the Rockets had formed and been utterly annihilated some years ago. However... had the child who defeated Team Rocket been gifted with some sort of latent psychic ability that had manifested when he'd needed it the most... perhaps it was not so surprising that they had fallen.
A school for such individuals would imply, in my eyes, that there is a portion of the population emerging with psychic abilities. They too had their own detestable Elite Four and Gym Leader system, and if memory serves correctly, Sabrina is the name of Saffron's...
Concordia's expression is amused when she notices the moment I make the connection between Saffron City's psychic school and its leader. "I will grant you leave to attend this school, if you so desire." It will hurt losing them, but it may be a blessing to have them somewhere safe, and out of my father's reach for the time being. I must give them the choice, however, I do not wish to step on any dreams of their own, or hamper their own journey to reaching their potential.
Both of them shake their heads instantly. "We merely wished to inform you of its existence, nothing more." A lie doused in honey is still a lie, and I know them well enough by this point to know there is almost always something more to their words.
They want you to go too. Zorua tells me, leaping back on to my shoulder now that he knows it will not hurt me to carry his weight. It wouldn't be a bad idea, if, you know, we weren't busy. Maybe they can find that kid's sire, you know, it might make her happy too. She sounds like the kinda girl who'd wanna beat him up for being such a loser. Tiny white fangs glinted in the light in his own silent laughter.
I give him a stern look, though I don't entirely count his suggestion out. "I need you two to run a history search on someone." I give them the name of the man and add in Touya's name additionally, figuring it couldn't hurt to get information on him as well. Touko will have to suffice the next time I see her for such matters, especially since the boy gave me little information as to how he is so proficient in self-defense, but takes such a passive role in everything.
Concordia and Anthea incline their heads, agreeing to do as I ask, though I can tell the former of the two has additional questions she would like to ask. She seems to choose her questions wisely, a double-edged blessing, as it only means it'll be the most aggravating time when she decided to bring the subject back up again.
"Lord N?" Anthea, I can tell without looking which one of them is speaking even as I turn to head back into the city, back to where a very complex problem still remained with all the extra variables that made her at once intriguing, and ultimately frustrating.
I pause, looking back over my shoulder and patiently await what Anthea wishes to tell me- or ask me.
She hesitates a moment, Concordia giving her a squeeze of encouragement against her side, before finally speaking softly. "Where will you go?" There's an odd look on her face, yet another person who's expression implies that a very specific answer is required so as not to disappoint.
I take my chances and reply with an equally soft voice, eyes flicking back to the direction I intend to go. "To pay our dear Gym Leader and loyal defender of the city a personal visit." I'm not particularly proud of the venom that slips into my voice, nor the sarcasm that's rather unbecoming for a king, but it's a true, honest answer- and thus hopefully one that will satisfy her. I begin to walk, giving a wave of my hand in good-bye, I would see them soon, so there would be no need for more formalities.
Burgh and I needed to have another little chat, and this time, there would be no interference.