N-Black is FINALLY back with Pokemon Academy and Happy New Years to everyone! I don't know what it was, but I felt the creative spark all of a sudden and just had to start writing again! But that's quite enough of me so let's get the chapter started.

Chapter 30: Reflections

Justin lazily threw rocks at the nearby stream, attempting to make them skip. Each one he tossed only sunk into the bottom of the stream and floated away with the current. It was his usual Saturday training session with Cynthia, but something felt off. He could tell that Cynthia was watching him, no doubt curious as to why he was neglecting his task for the day. He was supposed to be training his Pokemon, plain and simple training, none of the crazy things that the Sinnoh Champion usually had prepared for him. One would think that he'd be thankful for such a simple day, but it only allowed for all the things on Justin's mind to come toppling onto him like a Golem's Rock Slide.

The Winter Tourney was just a few days away now and he wasn't sure if he or his team were prepared. Justin gazed out into the open field to see that his team wasn't sure of what to do either. He had convinced himself to take part in the tourney, but he was afraid of failing his team. With a sigh, Justin laid in the shade underneath a tree and stared at the sky only to hear the sound of Cynthia walking over to him. He knew he was in for an earful.

"Justin, what are you doing?" Cynthia asked with not a hint of anger or annoyance in her voice.

"Lying down." He replied simply without looking at her.

"I asked what you were doing." She stated again. This time Justin looked to her with a questioning expression.

"Lying down?" He said with confusion. Cynthia shook her head and this really had Justin thrown for out of the loop. "What do you mean no? This is what I'm doing."

"Stand up." She said simply as she walked off. She didn't look back to see if he was following her directions, but Justin huffed and rose to his feet, not wanting to anger Cynthia. The Sinnoh champ sat on the stump of a tree and pointed into the direction of the stream. Justin looked at the running body of water, unsure of what Cynthia wanted him to do. "Walk up to the water and tell me what you can see."

Justin went to the water's edge and stared into the stream. Justin saw his face, but it was distorted by the rapid movement of the water. "I see my face, but it's all chopped up by the running water." Justin looked back to see Cynthia wave for him to come back over and he noticed her pouring water into a bowl.

"Now look here and tell me what you see." Justin peered into the bowl to see a perfect mirror image of himself. He gazed into the bowl, starting to realize where this was going.

"I see myself... clearly." Cynthia was using the still water vs. disturbed water philosophy, but to what end, Justin didn't know quite yet.

"Which image do you think best represents you at the moment?" Justin clearly knew which one he was. But he couldn't will the words to come out of him. He was clamming up. It was only when someone like his father talked to him like this, but with Cynthia... he should've felt comfortable around her, but that didn't appear to be the case.

"I know you know the answer is the reflection on the stream, but why are you so conflicted within yourself?" She put a hand on his shoulder and he felt a little better.

"I've been worried about the Winter Tourney at the Academy. It's in two weeks and I don't feel prepared for it." Justin felt a surge of his inner worried start to become words and he decided to let loose what he felt. "I know that I shouldn't say that because you told me I should train and I just ended up being lazy and not doing anything, but it's because of all this build up to this tournament. I'm just..."

"You're just what?" Cynthia asked worriedly.

"I'm afraid of failing!" Justin said loudly, causing some bird Pokemon to fly out of the trees. A moment of silence fell between the two of them. "I want my team to be the best they can be, but if I lose at the tourney..." Memories of his past battles rang in his memory. His loss against Carlos and Lane's words... they all left an impact on him.

"Justin, who am I to you?" Cynthia asked curiously. The question caught Justin off guard.

"Well you're my instructor, if that's the right word and you're the Sinnoh League..."

"Champion." Cynthia said dryly. "How does someone become a champion?" She asked.

"Through hard work, determination..."

"Determination!" Cynthia exclaimed, cutting Justin off once again. "Drive, grit, resilience... all of these mean the same thing." Cynthia closed her eyes and breathed deeply. I've failed many times Justin, before I was the champion and even now."

"Everyone makes mistakes." Justin said quietly as Cynthia snapped her fingers at his statement.

"Precisely. No one is without flaws, but Justin do you truly believe that?" What kind of question was that? Of course he did! Cynthia smirked as she looked at him. "I can tell you do by the look in your eyes... but I know that there is one person you exempt from that philosophy."

"Who?" Justin asked. There could surely be no exceptions to this. Cynthia smiled slightly and said quietly,

"You." Justin felt his heart sink. Him? "You can believe that everyone else is imperfect except for yourself. You're always hard on yourself for your mistakes, so much to the point that you're afraid to take risks. You've been growing ever since I met you. Your trip to face that Tyranitar is proof of that."

Justin silently processed the words Cynthia was saying and saw their truth. Every time he made a mistake, he became less sure of himself. His stage fright wasn't stage fright... it was him fearing his failure in front of the people. His initial nervousness about the tutoring Professor Oak assigned him wasn't because he was scared of speaking in front of people; it was because he was scared of failing to help his peers.

"Justin..." Cynthia said as she turned his head with her hand on his cheek so that he could look her dead in the eyes. "To fear failure is to fear success. If you're too scared to try, how will you ever know how something may have been?" Justin realized how hypocritical he had been to himself. He could help everyone but himself.

"You're right..." Justin said dejectedly. It was hard to admit, but Cynthia was right. "But how can I fix this?" Cynthia smiled and Justin saw a glint of mischievousness in her stormy gray eyes.

"How every trainer solves their problems... with a battle of course!" Cynthia drew from her lack coat a pokeball and threw it into the air. With a flash, Cynthia's strongest Pokemon, her mighty Garchomp took the field and roared, its yellow eyes filled with menace. Cynthia stood proudly next to her Pokemon. "What will it be Justin?" She asked with a smile.

Simply accepting her challenge was a difficult enough, but to fight her Garchomp? Justin knew what Cynthia was trying to accomplish, but against such adverse odds, it seemed that this battle would only worsen his fear. Justin's mind wandered to his friends. He knew that everyone would pick him back up should he fall because they knew he would do the same for them. It was time to stop being afraid and tackle his fears head on.

"Dewott!" Justin called for his trusty friend and in a second, the otter Pokemon burst from the stream and to Justin's side. He could tell Dewott was having doubts as soon as it saw Garchomp in front of it, but Justin knelt down and put a hand on Dewott's head. "Don't worry Dewott... I'm not going to fail you or anyone else anymore." With Justin's reassurance, Dewott turned around and drew its shells. Justin was done being afraid. Now was the time to prove how much he had grown.

Alright guys that's it for this chapter! I went off on a tangent from the previous chapter, but I'll delve into the rest of the story next chapter as I have to readjust myself to writing again. Look forward to the next update guys and Happy New Year once again!

-N-Black, Out