When Norman first held the crying baby in his arms, he can't help but admire the baby's red eyes, filled with a mixture of determination, courage and curiosity — something Norman proudly notices.
He sits on the hospital bed, angling the baby so his exhausted wife can take a look him. His wife chuckles, and smooths the baby's hair back, gently tapping his nose with a pale, slender finger.
The baby stiffens and turns his adjusting eyes to Norman. Norman cracks a smile on his weather-beaten face.
He bestows the name Ruby on the crying baby.
Norman still remembers the Salamence that scarred both Sapphire and Ruby. The image of Ruby limping home with his Poochyena for support; the fresh, scarlet blood pouring from the gaping wound on his head; the flushed look on his pale face accompanied with a proud glint in his eye.
"Daddy!" he shouts, and Norman can feel the strength and sheer excitement in that one cry.
His wife hurtles out of their little cottage, armed with antiseptics and bandages. She hurries towards their son, yelling out her worries frantically.
Norman doesn't participate in such sympathies. He leans against the wall and watches his son limp towards him, pushing his mother away gently, a smile slowly breaking out on his bleeding face.
"Daddy! I defeated a wild Salamence!"
In reality, Norman crosses his arms and looks unimpressed, but deep inside, his heart is bursting with pride.
Every action has its consequence.
Shrugging a small sack on his back, he hugs his wife goodbye, silently clasping her small hands in his large ones.
His wife pulls away and busies herself by buttoning up Ruby's shirt, attempting to stall for time. He watches her tears fall onto Ruby's pale neck, and a burning sensation runs through the bridge of his nose.
Norman can feel the five year old's gaze on him, and shifts his eyes to the ground. When he looks up, he notices that Ruby is still staring up at him. His head is tilted up as he looks at his dad, his too-big hat revealing his scarlet orbs, along with the large bandage over his eye.
Norman is suddenly reminded of the reason why he's sent away at the sudden remembrance of the scar hidden under the white folds.
He hears the soft pattering of feet, and looks back to see his son stumbling after him, his eyes wide with shock.
"Daddy, are you gonna stop teaching me about battles?"
Norman remains silent, his hands planted firmly by his sides.
"I have to go, Ruby."
He watches the younger boy's expression change to horror, as he leaps forward to hug Norman's legs tightly. He stops and hesitates (he was never one for close contact), and he can feel Ruby's small hands clasp his favourite pair of faded jeans tightly.
"Daddy! I wanna go with you!"
Norman releases his Slaking, and the large pokemon scoops up Ruby into his large, furry hands.
He turns away, his son's voice crying out behind him, and he can hear Ruby's small fists pummeling against Slaking's soft fur. His heart throbs painfully, and tears prick at the corners of his eyes.
He puts a gloved hand on Flygon's back, and leaps onto it smoothly. Behind him, Ruby's cries have reached fever-pitch.
Norman commands Flygon to hover, and looks back at his broken family.
One of his wife's hands is covering her mouth, choking back a sob, while the other raised in a half-hearted attempt to wave. He gives her a small smile, and turns his attention back to his son.
Ruby had slipped out of Slaking's grasp and was running towards Norman, holding his small arms out desperately. The small boy's forehead was creased in confusion, his ruby eyes filled with anguish.
Flygon takes off, and Norman catches a glimpse of the small tears that fall down the young boy's face.
"Don't go Daddy… Don't leave me behind!"
Years pass before Norman finally makes contact with his family.
When he finally makes the effort to do so, his wife silently informs him that Ruby was not the same boy as the one Norman left behind two years ago.
He clenches his fists and slams a fist onto the wall, breaking the Pokegear without too much effort.
(His wife sighs as she hears the sound of breaking glass through the speakers of her Pokegear.)
One has an undying passion for battles. One has fallen head over heels with contests. To his bitter disappointment, the younger boy was so blinded by the beauty of contests that he chose to defy his parents and fled from the clutches of home.
When Norman hears the news of his missing son, he vows to find him. He crushes the Pokegear in his hand effortlessly, earning gasps from the trainers in his gym.
He gives them a dismissive wave, and mutters something about useless sons and foolish dreams.
But at night, when Norman's tough, steel-like armor is weakened, fatherly worries and cold, secret nightmares seep into his mind.
He feels worse when Birch and his wife call up to report futile findings.
The moon mocks him and the stars glare angrily as he curses into the wind.
Neither father nor son sleeps for days.
When they meet again, he can already see the weakened stance of his son. The dilated ruby-colored eyes and thin frame of the boy is enough to shatter his heart. His heart bursts with relief with the sight of his son standing safely before him.
Ruby sees a stranger. Standing before him is not the Petalburg Gym leader, but a lost, unhappy and worried man. The dark circles under his eyes scares him. He never thought that the old man would give a second thought about him.
However, both father and son are too proud to let their dignity get in the way.
Norman wins. He holds out a hand, and Ruby flinches back. He's smart to know that Ruby wouldn't give up easily, but even he stiffens in shock as Ruby makes a last, desperate attempt to retaliate.
As Ruby tries to launch the remaining mud shots through the branch, he falls onto his back, and the wood creaks ominously.
The sudden movement is too much for the old staircase. The weakened wood and rusting railings give way, and they fall.
They were both spared. It was probably a stroke of luck that the fish decided to disobey orders and burst out of its Pokeball.
Winona's call prevents him from embracing his lost son. The Fortree gym leader closes in on him, a lecture about responsibility already spilling out of her mouth. He turns away. He couldn't care less.
Looking back at his son, he launches into a tirade, berating his son on his foolishness and mistakes. (He also successfully blocks out the annoying purple-haired woman's complaints.) Ruby stiffens slightly at his harsh words, and he chides himself silently for being to hard on the boy.
When Ruby doesn't respond, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the red Pokeblock case he found in Slateport, and tucks it gently into Ruby's outstretched palm. His hand grazes against the boy's thin and scratched palm, and his eyes pricks with tears, wishing that he had found his son sooner.
"Be sure to call your mother. You should always keep in touch with your family and always reassure them that you're safe."
He turns to leave, but halts when a frail hand tugs on the sleeve of his jacket. He looks back and sees a pair of ruby eyes staring back at him.
"Why couldn't you do the same back then?"
They meet again on a rampaging battlefield.
Standing on the third legendary beast's head, Norman has a bird-eye view of the broken city. He was never a rash man, always being cool, calm and collected. But Scott's words had planted a seed of worry straight to his heart, and in a moment of impulse, he rushed to awaken the third legendary beast.
Scanning through the once intact Cave of Origin, he eventually finds a shell-shocked Ruby staring at him in awe, while crouching in the middle of the debris.
He guides Rayquaza to the boy, and Ruby leaps onto the dragon. Their eyes lock, and a lifetime of unspoken words pass between them.
Ruby jerks his head back to the rampaging pokemon; Norman nods and guides them closer.
Both plunge into the battle, identical smirks tugging at the end of their countenances.
The battle is over.
His already exhausted heart weakens further, and he collapses forward. He watches Ruby's eyes widen, his brow furrowing as he struggles with the weight of his father.
Norman forced his eyes open, as he stared deeply into the distressed orbs before him, struggling to fight the growing darkness.
"Was... Was it me? The person who set Rayquaza free... Was it me?"
Ruby's voice cracks, and tears spill out from his vermillion orbs. They fall gently on the older man's pale face, and Norman draws back a hoarse sigh.
"Yes, it was you."
The last and final time Norman sees Ruby is certainly the most painful moment of his life.
His beloved son is held tightly in the grasp of a Tentacruel, and he is rendered helpless behind the flames produced by a Houndoom.
"Don't go Dad! Please!"
A familiar memory darts across Norman's exhausted mind as he closes his eyes. It's a younger ruby, calling out to him when he was leaving. He struggled with the searing pain in his heart and the heat from the scorching flames, feeling his energy die away. But just before he slipped away, his sub-conscious state caught Ruby's muffled but frantic words.
"Dad! Don't leave me again... Please!"
A ghost of a smile flickers across his stoic expression, and he gives Ruby one last smile, before the scorching heat of the flames engulfed his body, and the cries around him fade into the distance.
"I'm sorry Ruby..."
The flames flicker before him, recalling an evil nightmare. Ruby remembered seeing it often after his encounter with the third Magma Commander, Mack. The illusional flames of his nightmare would always lick away at the faint images of his childhood, his past, and the people that he loved.
His heart clenched, as the flames died away before him.
The nightmare was repeating itself again. However, this time, it was real.
I've got to stop writing tragic stories D: Note, I follow Chuang Yi's translations, so instead of Hank, he will be known as Mack to me. Um, I kind of rushed this... so... *runs and hides under a rock*
Don't forget, I'm changing my fanfiction name to TopazSunshine on 1st November!