Sorry for the delay with this chapter! The storyline is starting to move along, things will pick up over the next few chapters as we move into a few new subplots.
Chapter Five: Sunny Side Up
June 28th 1985
When daylight shone through Viktor's uncovered window shortly after dawn, the twelve year old awoke for the first time in a long while knowing that he was going to have a great day.
For once in his life, Viktor was feeling truly positive. He lay in bed for a long time mulling over the excitement of the past few days. He and Cynthia had spent every day together, travelling around the city, finding quiet places amongst the strange mix of old and new to battle. Cynthia was a brilliant battler, and Viktor watched his Pokemon get knocked down one by one, but he did not feel angry or sad or disappointed as he did whenever Volkner or Flint battled him. Viktor learnt from each battle, and trained his Pokemon whenever he got home so they would be ready for the next time they faced Cynthia. It filled him with adrenaline and joy to see his Pokemon finally start to improve, and having Cynthia by his side only made the experience better.
Whenever they weren't training, Viktor would show Cynthia some different areas of Sunyshore that no tourist would usually see, and took her to all the different cafes and shops within the City Square. Cynthia always wanted to go to the library, where she would search for more books. Viktor was not sure exactly what she wanted, as Cynthia always went into her own little world in the hours they spent there, and he learnt to simply sit by and read his own books, watching Cynthia work.
I have a friend… I have never had a friend to spend the summer holidays with before! Viktor thought to himself as the sun shone against his face, lighting up his usually grim room. For once, I am actually having fun with my holiday. I have not felt this way for years, if I have even ever felt this way before! I actually cannot wait to start my day!
Viktor excitedly leapt out of bed and rushed out of his room, putting a thin blue dressing gown on as he left. The floor creaked with every step he took, but for once Viktor did not long to be back in his old house, too filled with happiness to care, but old memories crept into his mind as they usually did. His old home was located on the other side of the city, nestled away against a rock face and between boulders that protected it from the wind. It had been a modern brick house, built as part of some sort of incentive to attract more people to live in Sunyshore. Viktor could remember the bright red bricks and clay coloured tiles, with the blue and white paint scheme that went all throughout the house, rather than the plain lemon walls of his grandparents house that was covered with decades of dirt and grime. The quality of this age old house was one reason why Viktor longed to have his parents back, and sometimes he dreamed of being back in the little brick house and out this creaky wooden box, but whenever he was in a good mood, those thoughts occurred less and less.
Both of his grandparents were already in the kitchen when Viktor walked in, entering the front of the house that was really one giant room. His grandfather Peter was sitting at the dinner table, a giant slab of wood that could sit around thirty but rarely had more than five people. Viktor smiled at him before collecting a plate of fried eggs from the counter right before his grandmother Joan scooped more out of the pan. The kitchen had some of the newest appliances, from a flash white fridge to a proper oven with stove top cookers, and Viktor was secretly pleased that his food was not cooked or stored in something as old and dirty as the rest of the house was.
"How are you doing boy?" Peter said over his newspaper. He was a retired fisherman that now did managerial work for the same company, but had kept the burly frame and brown, leathery skin he had gotten from being out on the seas all day. Viktor never had much to discuss with him as he was more into books and science than wondering what it had been like to catch hundreds of Remoraid and Magikarp every day, but he and Peter managed to get along like an old fashioned grandparent and a new age grandchild did.
"I am actually very well," Viktor said with a smile, inhaling his eggs so he could get ready to see Cynthia sooner. "I am hoping to teach Castform a few new moves in training today!" Peter nodded, approving of this use of his time.
"You must invite this Cynthia girl over to dinner one night," his grandmother called out from the pan. Joan used to be a teacher but now looked after the house full time, occasionally taking part in volunteer work or helping Peter when it came to using computers at work. She was slimmer than her husband but unfortunately was losing her hair as well, with only wispy strands left that showed her pale scalp underneath. Viktor and his grandmother had a stronger relationship as Joan was far more sympathetic to the near teenager, though at times it bordered on being condescending and over protecting.
"I am not sure, Cynthia always talks about having to be back at her hotel before it gets too dark," Viktor said between mouthfuls. "And her hotel is really far from here. It would takes ages for her to get here and then make their way back in the dark."
"Oh of course, fair enough!" Joan said in her eternal optimism. "Still suggest it to her though, you never know, she may say yes!"
"Invite her whole family!" Peter grunted. "Put this bloody giant table to good use! We can lend them torches or something…" Viktor nodded along with his grandparent's, trying to look disinterested but secretly relishing in the idea the more he thought about it. Seeing Cynthia at night and meeting her family was sure to cement their friendship. It was what Flint and Volkner did, as well as Minerva next door, who was always having friends over that Viktor could see coming by their house. He knew that Cynthia would reject the idea initially, which was why he had shot the idea down, but Viktor would suggest it to her whenever it seemed right.
A rapping, triple knock sounded at the front door, echoing through the giant living space for all to hear, and Viktor had a feeling who it may be. Joan quickly bustled forwards before either Viktor or Peter could get up, moving between sagged couches and armchairs and overcrowded tables, and sure enough, once the thick oaken door had swung open, Viktor could see a circle of flaming hair waiting in the entrance.
"Hello Mrs Fischer," Flint said as he stepped in, smiling widely. Joan instantly began to fuss over him like he was one of her sons, and Viktor stared angrily at his eggs, struggling to contain himself. He had hoped that the boy would be banned from their house after what happened to the curtains, but neither of his grandparents blamed Flint, saying it had simply been an accident and that they could easily get new curtains cheaply at the markets. Viktor had been furious, but realised afterwards that they cared about Flint as if he too was their grandson, which was understandable considering how much time he spent at their house, and they were unlikely to send away Volkner's only good friend, even if it meant upsetting their other true grandson.
Volkner was not yet awake, so Joan invited Flint to sit down at the table and even offered him some eggs. Viktor grabbed a spare section of the newspaper his grandfather had put aside and pretended to be absorbed in an article about an upcoming surfing competition, not wanting engage with the enemy this early in the day. Flint was always careful to never upset Viktor whenever the grandparents were around, all three of the young boys knowing it would prove Viktor's complaints and give the grandparents no choice but to punish him, so the red headed boy only smirked at Viktor before enjoying his second breakfast.
"So Flint, are you and Volkner getting ready for this tag battle tournament?" Peter asked over his newspaper.
"Oh yeah, we are getting ready!" Flint said excitedly. "We've been training since the holidays began, but now that entries are open, we're really stepped things up. I think we may even be able to evolve some of our Pokemon before the competition begins!"
"That sounds wonderful!" Joan exclaimed. "You must tell us when your first battle is on so we can come and watch! Oh, that reminds me! Viktor, how is your entry for the science competition coming along? Have you found any time to work on it when you haven't been seeing Cynthia?"
Damnit, Viktor thought, freezing up as her words washed over him. His spoon hung limply in his hand, egg dripping off onto the plate, and Viktor could feel all the eyes in the room staring directly at him. It suddenly dawned on him that he had ignored his science project over the last few days, too distracted to give it any thought. There was so much he had to do in order for it to be ready in time for the competition, but all Viktor had thought about since he had met Cynthia was training his Pokemon and getting to know his new friend better.
"Viktor, what's wrong?" Joan asked, suddenly sounding nervous. "Has something happened to your project?" Viktor looked up to see everyone staring at him, and he could hear the creak of floorboards, Volkner waking up to come and join in the judging.
"I've forgotten about it," Viktor admitted, unable to think of any convincing lie that would not lead to more awkward questions. "Cynthia and I have been spending so much time training that I completely forgot to work on it! I'll try and get some more done today, hopefully." Joan looked a bit surprised but smiled and nodded anyway, but Peter grunted from across the table.
"Hopefully? I expect you to try harder than that, especially after all that money you blew through on it!" He put his paper down and turned towards Flint, whose eyes were already shining with malicious delight, and Viktor angrily clutched his spoon like a weapon. "Flint, did you know Viktor here spent all of his saved up pocket money in a few hours getting bits and pieces to make his little toy? He then had to beg for more money because he had only brought half of what he needed! HALF!" Flint roared with laughter, tipping back in his chair, unable to stop himself. Viktor's fury quickly doubled as Peter chuckled deeply to himself, and Flint went red in the face, looking as though he was struggling to breathe, his mocking eyes focussed on Viktor.
"OH SHUT UP!" Viktor roared, and he scooped some of his eggs up and flung them at Flint without a second thought. The younger boy was so taken aback when it struck him between the eyes that he lost his balance and his chair tipped over backwards. Joan cried out as Flint's head thunked against the floor, and there was a cracking sound as the back of the chair snapped.
"Idiot!" Peter growled as his wife ran over, Flint groaning on the floor. "What did you do that for?"
"He always mocks me, but you two never believe me when I tell you!" Viktor shouted, leaping to his feet. He felt guilty for breaking the chair and was worried that he may have injured Flint, knowing how well that would go down, but secretly, he felt pleased to have finally caused him some sort of pain. After everything he had ever done to Viktor, a bit of revenge seemed fair. "And now I see why, considering you mock me as well!"
"Oh Viktor, get a hold of yourself, he was just teasing!" Joan cried as she helped Flint get back to his feet. "There was no need to go and cause all of this trouble and damage! It was just a little joke!"
"What's going on here?" Everyone turned to see Volkner had appeared in the doorway, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and looking very confused.
"Your retarded cousin attacked me!" Flint wailed, his eyes watery as he glared at Viktor.
"I AM NOT RETARDED!" Viktor screamed. "SEE? He just insulted me again!"
"YOU JUST ATTACKED HIM!" Peter yelled. "Be glad that I don't hit you boys like my father did to me, otherwise you'd be the one that'll need tending too!" Viktor gasped, taken aback by his grandfather's harshness. He looked around and saw everyone was angry with him, with Volkner rushing in to help his friend, looking at his cousin with complete disgust.
How are they all acting like this? Viktor thought, looking around at the people that were supposed to be his family. They weren't angry at me when they thought I had gone missing the other day. Real family would have told me off for running off like that, they didn't even care… none of them care for me! They probably want Flint to be their grandson! Well they can have him…
Five minutes later, Viktor stormed from the house, fully dressed and with a backpack slung over his shoulder. Peter roared at him as he left, while Joan sat crying in a chair, Viktor unsure why but felt guilty all the same. Nonetheless, he did not look back, and simply kept on walking. He was not going to linger in a house where he was not wanted, and had already decided what he was going to do next.
The City Square had gotten busier over the past few days, as the number of tourists pouring in for the various competitions and for their holidays began to overrun the city. Cynthia sat awkwardly at a table outside Café Chimchar at the Carmella's complex, hundreds of people walking past her every minute. Many of them paused and examined the café, trying to find a seat, and would then glare angrily at her for hogging her spot.
I don't want to be here, you can gladly take it, Cynthia kept thinking whenever someone shot her a look, and several times she had considered leaving the four seated table behind and blending in with the crowd, disappearing as easily as it would be to teleport away with an Abra. Cynthia had kept up this charade with Viktor long enough, and it was time she either tell him the truth and see if he could help her, or cut him loose and continue this quest on her own.
He seems so nice, it would destroy him if I did this, Cynthia thought as she played with the salt and pepper shakers, tipping them onto the table and drawing two circles out of the different grains. But I can't keep spending my days training him and his Pokemon. I left Celestic Town for a reason, and that wasn't working with Magikarp and Feebas. I need to find this book, I need to prove my theory, and then I need to get working on finding these bloody orbs. Cynthia stared down at the circles she had drawn, wishing it was that easy to get the orbs. She sighed and brushed them all onto the pavement, earning her a glare from a passing waitress, but Cynthia was too caught up in her thoughts to really notice. He could have his uses outside of his library card, but does he seems too soft, would he be able to handle what I have planned?
"Oh my god, I can't believe how big the crowd is today!" A voice said from above her, and Cynthia looked up as Viktor sat down in the seat opposite her, red in the face but wearing a smile that did not match the look in his eyes. Cynthia had no idea how long she had been here, having lost track in her thoughts, but presumed that Viktor must now be on time for their meeting. He usually arrived exactly to the minute of whenever they had arranged to meet up, something that Cynthia found both cute and irritating.
"I know, it seems to get bigger every second," Cynthia replied with a forced smile, struggling to make a decision on what to do but knowing that she really had to make one before the end of this meal, at the same time confused but his odd expression.
"You should be here around mid July, the entire city is basically overflowing," Viktor explained. "All the hotels and beach houses are full; there isn't a spare room to be had. Some people rent their homes out and go away to Snowpoint or Hearthome just to get away from it all. Last year, I even think some of the shops ended up running out of stock… I know one café had to close for a few days, but I can't remember which one…"
"Well, I am not sure if I will still be here by then," Cynthia said, trying to hurry things along but not noticing the bluntness of her tone. Viktor paused in his ramblings, looking as though he had been punched in the stomach, and the happy mask he had put on quickly faded away. He merely mouthed 'oh' and fell silent. Guilt rose up in Cynthia, but she had no idea what was going through Viktor's mind.
All the way here, the twelve year old had decided that he was going to try and stay with Cynthia and her family for a few days. Despite what Peter had said, Viktor still had some money stored away, pocket money he had put aside and had been saving up for when he got older or for something special. Viktor had brought the money with him, hoping he could give it to Cynthia's parents and stay with them until the end of the summer. Viktor did not want to stay in his house any more, not while Flint was able to mock, insult and degrade him like that and his grandparents batted their eyelids and ignored all of their grandson's complaints. They had to see that Viktor was serious about being insulted and hurt like that, and at the moment, running away seemed like the only option.
The only problem was that Viktor had nowhere to stay. He had no friends that lived in Sunyshore, with Cynthia being the only person he had connected with for many years. Viktor had hoped that he could have stayed with her family, using his saved money to pay for an extra bed or something like that. Hotels were always cheaper at the end of August when the holiday rush faded, and Viktor knew of several cheap places he may be able to afford by the time they left, but he could not survive a month homeless until then.
"Are you alright?" Cynthia asked. "You've gone quite quiet." Viktor looked up, blinking back worrisome tears and forced another smile upon his face.
"Everything's fine," he said, but his voice was high and squeaky, and simply confirmed to Cynthia that something was wrong. She groaned mentally, knowing she could not possibly ditch him now that he was upset. An awkward silence came across the two, seeming out of place in the middle of a crowded café next to a busy street. Viktor ordered them both chocolate milkshakes when a waitress came around, but they decided to keep moving rather than linger. As soon as they had paid and stood up, several different groups rushed for their seats, and the two teenagers disappeared into the crowd.
Silently, they marched alongside each other, still silent, being crushed by the hundreds of people filling the Square. Viktor kept replaying what had happened at his house, and wondered if Flint had been seriously injured, if his grandfather was still shouting, if he would ever be allowed back now that his plan had failed. Cynthia wanted to say something, but she still had no idea what. Random words buzzed around in her brain, many different thoughts clashing with one another, trying to decide what was more important: being kind to Viktor or moving on with her real journey.
"Are you going to tell me what's wrong, or are we just going to keep awkwardly walking around being crushed by these sweaty rich people?" Cynthia snapped finally, the words coming out before she had thought them over properly. People around them turned in shock and disgust, and Viktor froze, his milkshake a few centimetres away from his lips, looking at Cynthia in surprise. A burly father standing a few feet away looked like he was going to snap at them, so Viktor quickly grabbed Cynthia by the arm and pulled out of the crowd.
"Are you mad?" He hissed as they power walked down a quiet side street that only led to residential houses, quickly leaving the crowds behind. "If you get a crowd that size riled up, they are bound to fight back!"
"I don't care about those idiots!" Cynthia snapped back. "I just want to know why you arrived today with a fake smile and nearly burst into tears before! Something's wrong and your not telling me what it is, and I don't want to be dragged around by someone that is lying to me!"
"Oh yeah? Well… what about you and the library!" Viktor retorted, wheeling around to face her. "Why do we keep going there and spending hours while you look for books but never get any more out?" Cynthia cursed in her head, not realising that Viktor had actually come to suspect the long hours they spent there after training. Viktor, on the other hand, had simply pulled that out of thin air, but the shocked look on Cynthia's face was enough to confirm that something was up, and his insecurities began to creep in. "There is some other reason! Your looking for something, aren't you? Is that why you are friends with me, you need my library card or something like that?"
"What? No, that's stupid!" Cynthia cried, and she tried to pull free of his grasp, but Viktor grabbed tighter, his curiosity taking control. "Let go of me!"
"Not until you tell me what's going on!"
"I will if you do, just let me go!" Cynthia shouted, starting to get worried. "I said LET ME GO!" And she lashed out with her free hand, smacking him in the face with her milkshake and wrenched free of his grasp. Unfortunately, her strength pulled Viktor forwards, and he lost his balance, not realising until he was flying forwards directly towards Cynthia's chest. Both of them cried out, and suddenly they were both sprawled across the concrete. Their milkshakes exploded on the pavement, Viktor's bag fell open, the rattling of coins signalling his money had fallen out, there were several clicks and the bursting sound of PokeBalls opening, and something began to slap against the concrete, making a sickening wet sound.
It all happened pretty quickly, but they had both hit their heads and felt dazed. Viktor looked up at Cynthia, who was rubbing her head, stars flying before her eyes, and he looked around, unable to stop himself from smiling. Cynthia glared at him, and Viktor descended into laughter. He looked around and saw his Magikarp was flopping against the pavement, gasping for breath as always, his red scales shining brightly in the sun. Viktor realised that he and Cynthia had been covered by the milkshake, the chocolate, chunky liquid coating them like an extra layer. He had no idea why he was laughing so hard, but his sides were starting to hurt, and he began to roll around on the ground.
"Is something wrong?" Cynthia asked, continuing to rub her head as she sat up. She looked down at her clothes and saw how filthy they were, and felt pitiful for the Magikarp that she had constantly defeated over the past few days flailing before her. "Did you hit your head on the concrete or something?"
"Did you have an accident?" Viktor asked, and when Cynthia looked confused, he pointed at the back of her cloak. She turned and saw she was sitting directly in the milkshake, staining her entire backside in a rather unappealing manner.
"Oh real mature," Cynthia sighed as she tried to wipe the milkshake away so it did not look quite as revolting, but Viktor laughed harder, unable to control himself, and a smile began to creep onto Cynthia's face. By the time Magikarp had tired himself and simply fell flat on the concrete, both Viktor and Cynthia were roaring with laughter, rolling through the milkshake mess and Viktor's money, letting their childish immaturity take over as they laughed at the situation they had found themselves in, not just this accident but their lives in general. It quickly dawned on Viktor that he had started the day with such positivity and with high hopes, but was now rolling on the concrete covered in chocolate milkshake, having just argued with his only human friend in the world, and Cynthia could not control herself as she remembered the purpose of her journey, never factoring this sort of situation into it when she had made her big plan.
It took a few minutes, but Viktor and Cynthia began to calm down. The two ended up lying next to each other, red in the face and breathless, the milkshake turning into sticky stains. The two turned to look at each other, ignoring a family walking past looking dreadfully confused at them, too absorbed in the questions that were returning now that the laughter had died. They smiled awkwardly at each other, remembering the scuffle that had led to this, and knew it was time to tell the truth.
"I'm looking for a book that is going to prove something," Cynthia explained. "It will take too long to explain, but it has to do with Dialga and Palkia and the Time-Space Legend, and I need this book in order to track down a man called Mr Adiem. It is important that I find it, and to be honest, it is the only reason why I came – I mean, why I suggested my family come here."
"I was hoping to come and stay with your family for a few weeks," Viktor admitted. "I brought all my savings with me to help cover your hotel costs or something like that, because I am pretty sure my grandparents like my cousin's friend more than they like me, and I don't want to be around them anymore." Silence remained after he finished speaking, and the two remained locked in their gaze. Cynthia was taken aback, but tried not to let it show unless Viktor thought she was thinking of him differently. She had always seen him as lonely, desperate for a friend, and this simply confirmed everything, but after a few moments, Cynthia realised she had the answer she needed.
"Don't we have some training to do?" Cynthia said, pushing herself up and slowly getting to her feet. Viktor smiled with relief, fearful that she was going to think him strange, and stood up himself, not before picking up his money and scooping Magikarp into his arms.
"I can help you find that book, if you need me to," he said, turning to face his friend, smiling nervously. "We have only looked on the top floor, but I think there could be some stuff in the encyclopaedia section, and I know which librarians would be able to point us in the right direction."
"Thanks, I appreciate the offer," Cynthia said with a smile. We are not so different, you and I, she thought as they turned and carried on down the road, heading for an old section of sand they used to train in. I was lonely as well back in Celestic Town, and I had to cross half of Sinnoh in order to find a friend. I know once I have the book I am going to leave, but the only question now is whether you come with me or not. Cynthia had never considered it before, but she had seen the sadness in Viktor's eyes and knew she had felt the same way before. If he was that desperate to leave his family behind, the same way she had abandoned her sister and grandmother, then maybe Viktor would be willing to forget about Sunyshore and come on the road with her. When it comes to battling on the road, three extra Pokemon may just come in handy… and a friend may be even better.