A/N: don't ask me where this came from because i can't tell you
It's Stacey's jubilant cry that snaps Sam back into reality. He blinks awake groggily, catching his bearings, fumbling for the knowledge of where he is.
Stevie prods him curiously. "We're here," he whispers, a bit softly. "Littleroot."
Oh. Right. That.
Mom is waiting out front, the driver of the moving van directing his Pokemon in and out of the house, and Dad nowhere to be seen. Home sweet home, with his old life moving to and fro between the van and the unfamiliar house.
Beside him, Stevie says, "I want to go home home."
The town is nice enough. There's a bit of a sweet smell rolling in from the forest, like sea salt and something else, and a girl who comes by with her mother bringing butterscotch cookies every once in a while.
Professor Hummel has a son, everyone rumor-whispers. Sam's never seen him, never even caught a glimpse, and everybody says he's his own biggest fan.
Sam waits at the window to see him as he enters the forest early in the dawn, collecting data for his dad and wielding Pokeballs at his belt, but he always falls asleep with his chin in his palm, waiting and watching for the elusive boy who never even once came to greet his family.
The girl with the butterscotch cookies flutters a little in his mind.
"When's Dad coming home?"
Mom chews slowly and doesn't answer right away. When she does, her eyes dart a little down to the left and she whispers, "He's very busy."
It's not an answer, not one that Sam wants, but he nods anyway, like she asks him to.
The first time Sam sees Professor Hummel's son isn't his proudest moment.
He's about to step foot into the forest, curious to the end of his toes about what might lie there. He's heard horror stories. The girl with the butterscotch cookies (she calls herself Quinn, but she'll always be butterscotch to him) once entered without a thing to protect herself with, and Professor Hummel had to rescue her from an enraged Zigzagoon.
But Sam can't help it, and it surely can't hurt to peek.
"Hey! What are you doing?"
Sam freezes on the spot and jumps to face the voice. He's never seen the boy before which makes him almost certain it's Professor Hummel's invisible son.
He has brown hair, slicked and styled in a precise way, and he's a few inches under Sam's height, but the first thing he notices is the look in his eyes. Livid, certainly; Sam's never seen anyone quite so angry before, ablaze with dislike and exasperation. Sam immediately tries to name the color of the eyes. Blue, maybe, green, all the colors of the sea. Sam always loved the sea.
"Well?" And Sam jerks back to present.
"I was just going for a look —"
"Going to get yourself killed, more like." He seems to deflate a little at the piteous look on Sam's face. "I know you. You're new to town."
Sam nods, relieved that he's not about to get yelled at again. "Yes. I'm Sam. Sam, uh, Evans."
Recognition flits briefly in his eyes. "Your father is Petalburg's new gym leader." Sam doesn't ask how he knows — everyone seems to know, apparently, barely even a week of moving to Hoenn andeveryone knows.
"Yeah, that's him." Sam cracks a weak smile and adds, "He said it was like being extraordinary at being mediocre. Normal-type Pokemon are anyone's specialty."
"I didn't think anyone mediocre could replace Norman," Professor Hummel's son remarks. And before Sam can say another word: "Kurt, by the way. Hummel. The —"
Kurt's eyes light up with longing and admiration and Sam can't seem to look away. "The best Professor in all of Hoenn."
Seeing the way Kurt talks about him, Sam doesn't doubt it.
And there's something about his eyes — blue and green, the colors of the sea — that make Sam think about the girl with the butterscotch cookies, and how seeing her face doesn't quite bring him the same sort of fluttering.
Sam manages to stay awake until dawn, when Kurt straightens his belt tighter on his waist and plunges deep into the forest, and though Sam wishes desperately to join him, he remains with his chin in his palm, the sour taste of butterscotch in his throat.
He thinks about Kurt, Professor Hummel's son and biggest fan, every moment he's awake, and though he doesn't remember his dreams, he's sure the smell of the sea and the color of blue and green invade those thoughts, too.
He inhales the sweet smell from the forest and can taste the salt. Not so much the Something Else.
The first time Sam enters the forest, he's not alone.
He hears the screams before he sees them, really, and he peers along the bend just to catch a glimpse of Professor Hummel pinned against a wall of trees. A savage Poochyena snaps at his heels, foam pooling at his jaws.
It's stupid, but Sam does it anyway; he reaches into the Professor's bag and grabs the first Pokeball he touches.
In a brilliant, dazzling light, the Treecko bursts into form. "T-Tackle?" That's definitely a command, right? Sam watched all the best programs, hanging on to Professor Oak's every word back home in Viridian City.
The Pokemon springs to life, hurtling into Poochyena's exposed flank, and Sam watches, awestruck, as the Wild Pokemon teeters to the side, spent. A vacant expression replaces the rage as his eyes roll into the back of his head and close. A brief moment of inspection proves him to be very much alive — only unconscious.
"I, um, S-Sam Evans." It's the first thing he can think of saying and the only thing that makes sense. His name. The Professor would want to know his name.
There's a look of interest in Professor Hummel's eyes — and relief, gratitude, shock — and he mutters something like, "Meet me in my lab."
Sam nods a little, and Treecko returns back to the Pokeball with a whine of protest.
Treecko stares at him expectantly, like he has answers to some cosmic question.
"M-Mine?" Sam had stammered to the Professor, refusing at once to take the outstretched Pokeball. He can't handle a Pokemon. He can hardly handle fish or watering plants, much less a living breathing thing.
But Professor Hummel insisted he take him. Said something about natural-born trainer.
But I'm not, Sam didn't say. That's my dad. Extraordinarily ordinary. Exceptionally good at being decent.
Treecko looks at him now like he has the answers to everything. Sam feeds him butterscotch cookies and waits for something to happen.
Dad's on the news again.
"I'd be really proud of your dad, if I were you." Kurt strokes Treecko's head and the Pokemon curls into him, humming contentedly. "Petalburg's gym leader. I know the Four usually don't choose from other regions."
Just the thought makes Sam homesick for Kanto. Viridian City and it's lively, bustling sidewalks, its busy streets and buzzing stores. Littleroot doesn't compare.
"I am proud of my dad." It sounds a little like a lie, and Kurt can see it too, but like a good friend, a good adversary, he doesn't say a word.
"Dad made us move," Sam says to no one in particular. Treecko doesn't quite like him yet, but he pretends to listen, and Sam pretends, too.
"I didn't want to go. But he made us. And now he's never around."
Treecko croons low in his throat, and for the first time, he climbs into Sam's lap and pretends to care a little more.
"I want to go home." The smell of sea salt wafts from the forest and the green and blue eyes invade his head. As if that's home.
And Kurt is never around — preparing for his journey. His eyes ablaze with color, his mouth full of jewels, he whispered, "I want to be great, like my father. I want to be great, Sam. Just like yours, too."
The girl with the butterscotch cookies never comes 'round anymore.
Sam thinks it must mean something, but now when he tries to remember the taste of butterscotch on his tongue, he can only inhale the sea.
For the first time — the last time — Sam approaches Kurt in the early dawn light, before Kurt fastens his belt a little tighter and enters the forest. The last time, because Kurt is leaving for good, and Sam never wants to wait for the sea again.
"Take me with you."
I want to be great, like my dad. Like yours, too.
Kurt breathes in the sea salt quickly with one breath and Sam thinks the sky's about to fall, the world is about to spin.
"You're not prepared."
I don't need to be. I'm great, like my father. Like yours, too.
At his side, Treecko makes that sound again — halfway between a purr and a groan of longing — and Kurt's eyes light up, the sea at sunset, color and movement sloshing at the shores.
Sam wants to be great. Like Kurt. Like the sea eyes and the smile and the slicked hair, styled in that precise way.