The brunette let out a groan of annoyance as she buried her face into the pillow. The weekend couldn't get any more boring for the eighteen year old.
It would be her last day staying at the house before she planned on venturing over to Veilstone City to challenge the gym leader over there and yet, there was nothing to do. She'd been laying there on her bed or otherwise wandering the house for a good portion of the day.
Her family had gone out the day before to visit the cemetery to pray at her parents' gravestones with her sister's boyfriend who was invited to come. When they got home, her grandmother insisted he stay over for dinner, once again, until he headed off later that evening. Heather figured that the rest of the weekend she'd get to hang out with her sister for some training or some 'sister bonding', as her grandmother would put it, which she had no qualms over. Even though she liked to tease her older sister a lot, she still loved her unconditionally and enjoyed whatever time they spent with each other.
She was almost looking forward to hanging out with her until her sister announced Steven would be coming over again the next day.
Needless to say, that was how she found herself lying on her bed in utter boredom.
She couldn't blame her sister for it, however. It was nice to know Cynthia was spending time with someone like Steven - not that she didn't think her sister couldn't have ever found a boyfriend for herself, of course. With how much she cared for her career as Champion of Sinnoh, it made Heather wonder if settling into a love life ever crossed her sister's mind before meeting the young man. Now her views have changed ever since he came into her life. But she had to give the man some credit where it was due. Heather knew how fans pretty much idolized Cynthia, some to an extreme extent which she didn't even want to think about. She always thought that with the life her sister led, it would be difficult to keep a working relationship with someone who would treat her with the respect and dignity she deserved.
But Steven was doing damn good job on that.
It was like they were fated to have met one another. In all honesty, Heather couldn't picture her sister with anyone else if it was not Steven. She was simply happy for them.
Just then, she suddenly heard the door to her room open. The brunette glanced over her shoulder and saw Cynthia's head poke into the room, her eyes wandering around until they came upon her form on the bed. Heather looked at her curiously.
"Hey," she greeted the blonde.
"Just wanted to let you know Grandmother said she'd step out into town to do some errands," was the champion's response. "And that Steven and I were going to head out for a bit but still be back in time for dinner."
Heather nodded in understanding. "Alright, go, I'll be fine here," she mumbled when she turned her face back into the pillow. She would have expected her sister to have left right after she said it, but instead, she heard the light padding of the champion's feet moving across the room. Heather turned her head from the pillow to see the blonde standing by her bed with a curious look in her eye.
"Is everything alright?" Cynthia asked her. When Heather didn't reply, she continued, "You know you can tell me anything."
Her words made the brunette scoff, amusedly. For as long as she could remember, Cynthia always took her role as big sister seriously. Maybe a little too seriously at times. Quite often she thought her sister cared about her well-being a little too much, but that was hardly an issue for her.
"I'm fine, sis, don't worry," Heather assured her. "Just a little bored maybe, but I'll find something to do since I'll have the whole house to myself."
Cynthia seemed unconvinced at first. "Alright, well…" She cleared her throat. "We were just going to take a walk outside," she informed her. "You're welcome to come if –"
Heather gaped in horror at such a suggestion. "Nooo way, I'm fine." The mere idea of being a third wheel with the two lovebirds as company was horrific. "I'd prefer to stay at home, thank you very much."
The blonde let out what seemed like a sigh of relief soon after. "Well good, because I didn't think you would want to come anyway," Cynthia said as she began heading for the door.
Heather frowned. "Then why'd you ask?"
She smiled. "Is it a crime to want to say something nice to my sister?" was her reply, which only unnerved the brunette by her answer being a question to her own.
Heather rolled her eyes and waved a hand in her direction to dismiss her. "Alright, alright, just go already."
With a light chuckle, Cynthia left the room, which left the brunette to lie there in the company of her own thoughts.
She could only guess that the two weren't going to go too far, if they wanted to avoid the eyes of any suspecting townsfolk. That was another thing she wondered – how exactly were they going to go public with their relationship? Or if they were ever going to, was the better question. It would certainly put the speculation that was circulating, and had existed even when the two were just friends, to rest finally.
It would give her a break too.
Ever since she'd risen to the top of the trainer class, her sister had gained quite the amount of attention and an extensive fan base. And as sister to the region's reigning Champion, she couldn't begin to count how many times people recognized and came up to ask about her sister – more often than not, about her personal life. But that came mainly from those who knew no boundaries of respecting one's privacy. Of course, Heather knew it wasn't her place to say and reveal who Cynthia was seeing, but she found that some fans were relentless. And rude. It took a lot of restraint to not snap and tell them to leave her sister alone. She learned to just be patient and pretend nothing was going on with her sister when in actuality, much of their speculation was very true.
She held great respect for them both and lying was the only way to protect their privacy, after all. However they were going to reveal it, she would support them all the way.
There was a low grumbling noise coming from within her, suddenly. Heather felt the hunger pangs occur in her stomach and without a second thought, she swung her legs over the edge of the bed to stand up. With nothing better to do, she decided to head down into the kitchen to find anything her grandmother might have left to eat.
Heather found that the rest of the house was dead silent, save for the sound of her shuffling and rummaging as she looked through the refrigerator and cupboards in the kitchen. Nothing that interested her could be found, however. That was when she felt something furry rubbing against her leg and when she looked down, her grandmother's Shinx was beside her. Heather smiled and bent down to pet the pokémon's blue fur.
"Are you hungry too, Shinx?" The electric-type yipped in agreement. "Alright, let me just see if we still have some leftover poffins," she said and she went to look through the cupboards once more. Usually her grandmother would have a large stock of poffins and pokémon treats for whenever her or her sister came by, in order to accommodate the appetite of their pokémon. And usually, there'd be just enough left over to share with her grandmother's Shinx.
She frowned when she emerged minutes later with no success of finding the poffins in question. "Sorry, pal," Heather told the blue-furred creature, "looks like we've run out." When she noticed it bend its head in disappointment, she came up with a worthwhile idea that would cure her boredom and both their hunger. "But hey, we can always take a walk to the bakery just down the street. It's not like there's anything better to do at home."
Her response came as light barks of excitement and bouncing at her feet. Heather smiled, content with the idea she came up with, as well.
"Alright then, it's decided!"
It was no problem for her to be walking around on the streets, even though she'd been told by many that her face sort of resembled her sister's (though she couldn't see it, herself). Obviously, there was the big difference of their hair but she'd gotten the saying that many thought Cynthia had decided to dye her hair brown on a whim. The very idea repulsed the brunette. She couldn't fathom why her sister would ever want to look like her and vice versa, at that. Nonetheless, Celestic Town was the place she and her sister grew up in and where they both felt most at home and comfortable in the world. None of that kind of bothersome recognition could be found here for her since she pretty much knew everyone in town.
"What's there to do now…?" Heather wondered aloud as they walked along the quiet streets once they left the store with the items they bought. She held Shinx in her arms as she fed the pokémon the poffins they'd gotten earlier. "I guess Grandma might be back from wherever she went. What do you think, Shinx? Should we go back home?"
They were nearing a small path that would led into a small public garden which she recalled her sister and her used to go play at when they were kids. The garden had lots of small trees and shrubs that were perfect for hiding in as well as some areas where one could sit and enjoy the peace of the garden. They always said it looked like a mini forest.
As they were about to pass by its entrance, her grandmother's pokémon ears perked up and began squirming in her arms all of a sudden, trying to break free from her hold. "Hey, what's the matter?" she asked, becoming increasingly alarmed by its behaviour. What she didn't expect to happen after that was for the pokémon to jump out from her arms and onto the stone path leading into the garden. "Shinx?"
Then the small creature started to run into the garden.
Heather gaped in bewilderment. "What the -?!" She didn't have to wait to decide to run after the small pokémon. "Shinx! Where are you going? Come back!"
She cursed under her breath when she found that despite its small size, it was too far ahead of her andshe knew she'd have a hard time trying to catch up to it. Since when did her grandmother's pokémon ever disobey orders and simply run off like that?
It didn't turn back at the call of its name, but kept running ahead as fast as its little legs could carry it. When had it gain such agility? If she lost sight of it, she knew she was going to be in a lot of trouble for losing her grandmother's precious pokémon. She didn't even want to think about what the consequences might be for having done so.
And unfortunately for her, that was exactly what happened next.
"Arceus," Heather cursed loudly when the small pokémon suddenly disappeared into a bush up ahead. "Grandma's gonna kill me!"
"I know I've probably said this before, but I really do like your hometown's peace and quiet, Cynthia. It's a lot different than in Rustboro, where I grew up."
Steven sent the Sinnoh champion a beaming smile as they walked through the lush green garden near her family's house. They hadn't gone too far when they left the house and Cynthia knew the garden area was a perfect spot to walk through without any disturbance. Not a lot of people came through these parts anymore, which was why she chose it.
She had told him all sorts of stories she and her younger sister spent as kids in the gardens, playing around without a care for the world. Those were all memories she cherished dearly and enjoyed reminiscing and telling Steven all about them. He, too, was just as amused by their childish antics.
"It is rather peaceful here, yes, but there are a ton of things the city has that a small town like Celestic doesn't," Cynthia pointed out when she stopped to reach into a berry bush and picked out a few wild Pecha berries. She handed some to Steven before popping one into her mouth.
"That's true, too," he said and ate one of the berries himself. "I just think it's nice to get away from all the noise and busy air every so often."
"And also why you like to retreat into caves once in a while, right?" Cynthia grinned when his cheeks flushed profusely. "I'm kidding, Steven. You already know I'm the same when it comes to my research on mythology."
Steven swallowed another Pecha berry before he spoke, "Speaking of your research, have I ever told you just how engrossed you become when you find something interested to read?"
She raised a brow before narrowing her grey eyes in suspicion. "No. No, you haven't."
He started to smirk, which only caused her to feel more suspicious and fearful to what he was going to say next. "I swear it's like you're in your own little world when you do. Just last week when we went to visit the library in Canalave, I must have called your name nearly a million times before you finally looked up at me."
Cynthia slowly turned her head to hide her darkening cheeks from his view. "You caught me in the middle of reading the mystery behind Turnback Cave, that's why," she defended herself from his claims. Then she added in a quieter tone, "Besides, who wouldn't be focused on reading something like that?"
She wasn't going to deny that he was wrong, however. What he noticed was a habit of hers since she was young and it didn't change much through the years since then. While her grandparents encouraged her to learn and read, there were multiple occasions where she would have her books plucked from her grasp in order to get her attention. It annoyed her but it worked, in the end.
It was towards the middle of their walk back home when Cynthia suddenly saw someone up ahead, shouting into the bushes. Finding it difficult to make out who the person could be so she tugged on Steven's sleeve and pointed to where she was looking at.
The former champion looked forward with some confusion. "Someone's in trouble?" he asked as they both started for whoever was up ahead.
"I suppose – wait…is that…?" Cynthia's eyes widened when she thought she recognized the figure. "Heather?"
She quickened her pace until she was able to confirm that her sister was indeed the one shouting into the bushes. The brunette had a plastic bag looped through her arm as she had her hands cupped around her mouth to project her voice. She was yelling out, "Shinx! Where are you?!"
At the call of her name, Heather jerked her head towards the Sinnoh champion and her companion. Her face was flushed pink and her breathing was ragged, as if she'd been running for a while, once Cynthia got close enough to see. She could only guess that something had to be definitely wrong for her sister to be acting this way.
She managed to breathe a sigh of relief when she saw her older sister, however. "Cynthia!"
"Heather, what's going on?" the blonde immediately questioned her. "Why are you shouting?"
"I-It's Shinx!" her sister stuttered, her tone filled with panic.
Cynthia was taken aback. "Shinx? What's happened to him?"
"We went for a walk to the bakery just down the street to buy some poffins and were on our way back home when he suddenly leaped out of my arms and ran into the bushes," the brunette explained quickly. "I don't know why he ran off, but Grandma's gonna snap if I don't find him!"
Cynthia held a hand to her forehead in exasperation by the sudden news. "Dear Arceus, Heather, you should have been more careful!"
"You think I don't know that?" Heather angrily snapped back, her own grey eyes glowering at hers.
"Shinx is a small pokémon, he should have been your responsibility!"
"I know he was my responsibility, that's why I'm trying to fix it!"
She could sense the anger within her younger sister and the annoyance within herself beginning to rise. Berating her irresponsibility wasn't going to help the situation, she knew, but she was so close to retorting something back if Steven hadn't been there to place a reassuring hand on her shoulder to suppress that urge. When she looked back at him, her expression softened at his calm demeanor.
"Instead of arguing, finding him should be our most important priority here," Steven said to the both of them. He took a poké ball from off his belt and tossed it into the air to summon his Archeops.
Cynthia sighed, knowing he was right. "Looks like we have no choice here," she said and summoned her Togekiss into the air just as similarly. "We'll help you find him, Heather."
The brunette chose to avoid her sister's eyes but managed to mutter a grateful, "Thanks."
"Do you have any idea where he could have run off to?" Steven directed at her.
Heather shook her head. "Like I said, he ran off into the bushes so he could have gone just about anywhere."
Cynthia turned to her Togekiss and patted its neck. "Take to the skies, Togekiss, and see if you can spot him from there, alright?" The white pokémon nodded in understanding. It flapped its wings hard which sent it shooting above them to do as its master had asked. Steven instructed Archeops to do the same and soon, the two flying-types were sent off on their own search. They were going to need all the help they could get if they were going to make it quick, at this point.
Nearly an hour into their search, the trio found themselves still wandering around the lush garden, calling out for the small electric-type. No luck came with either Togekiss or Archeops just yet, but they were still flying above the premises to look. Though the garden was fairly small, there was a lot of ground to cover if they decided to stick together. That was why Steven had chosen to split up, along with his Claydol, to search by himself, leaving Cynthia and Heather to look together. Their previous hostility towards each other had dissipated but Heather knew her sister might have still been disappointed in her.
"You're not mad, are you?" the brunette asked quietly as they walked through the forested area alongside each other.
The Sinnoh champion shook her head. "Not as mad as Grandmother will be if we don't find him soon," she replied. "I have no doubts that she'll try and call to know where all of us have gone off to."
Heather sighed deeply. "This is all my fault," she said. "I admit that I shouldn't have let go if I knew he'd run off in here." She went quiet after that, feeling a bit guilty over a small predicament that had brought her sister and her boyfriend into this. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be, we're here to help," Cynthia told her, offering a small reassuring smile. "We'll find him soon, I'm sure of it. Besides, Shinx is a smart pokémon. He wouldn't have wandered off too far."
She shook her head. "I know, but – never mind."
Cynthia sensed her sudden pause, however, and had to ask, "What is it?"
"I told you I wasn't mad but you still look a little gloomy," the blonde elaborated. She drew back a large bush with her arm and let her sister go through first before she went through herself. "What's bothering you?"
Heather suddenly recalled what her sister had said to her when she came into her bedroom earlier that day. They were close sisters, of course she could tell her anything. Besides her grandparents, Cynthia was the one other person she could confide all her worries and random thoughts to when she wanted to seek a listening ear. Though she might not be able to amount to what her sister had accomplished, her sister was ultimately the one who fuelled her desire to go off on a journey of her own to discover the world for herself. It shamed her to think that she had gotten her sister into this mess when she obviously didn't need to be a part of it.
"I'm sorry I brought you into this," Heather explained as she gazed around them for any glimpse of a small blue pokémon, "The both of you – and for interrupting you and Steven's time alone."
"Like I said, we were willing to help," was Cynthia's reply. "When I saw you shouting, I knew something was wrong. What kind of sister would I be if I didn't bother to help you out?" At that, Heather managed a weak smile as she continued saying, "Besides, as it should have been your responsibility to look out for Shinx, it'll always be a responsibility of mine to look out for you. Mother and Father told me that around the time you were born, and I've tried my best to stay true to their wishes."
The brunette's eyes widened in shock and amazement. "You still remember that? From all those years ago? Jeez, and I barely remember what I had for breakfast two days ago…"
She heard her sister chuckle at that. "They told us a lot of things, but that bit of advice has always stuck with me," Cynthia said.
Heather smiled a bit sadly. Aside from the pictures of their parents around the family house, she had few memories of her parents when they were alive. Since Cynthia was older than her at the time, it made sense for her to remember more than she did. She wished she could remember more things like her sister did, but as there was no way of that ever happening, she would have to cherish the ones she already had.
"I miss them," she found herself murmuring, "and Grandpa too."
Cynthia was quiet for a moment before agreeing with her, "We all do. But don't you remember what Grandfather always used to say?"
To this, Heather nodded. "'Always look to the future with hope…'"
"'…rather than remorse for the past', yes," the blonde finished for her, as they echoed the old man's words reminiscently. "I'm thinking we could apply those words here, right now."
Her sister spoke true to her words. Their grandparents' life lessons were what helped them get through any hardships they faced and it seemed only appropriate to use those lessons in the predicament they were in right now.
"Yeah," she said. "Yeah, you're right. I guess I was too caught up with the situation to think properly."
The continued on with their search, inspecting the bushes and behind trees, whilst calling out for the missing pokémon. It might not have been the ideal situation to spend time with her sister, but Heather was grateful for it, nonetheless.
She elbowed the Sinnoh champion gently to get her attention. "Hey, so, uh, you and Steven are pretty serious about each other, huh?"
Cynthia visibly stiffened at her complete change of topic. There was no denying that she knew exactly where this was going. Of course, Heather already knew that they were absolutely smitten with each other but she saw no harm done in poking fun at her sister about it. She reckoned it came with the job description as the younger sibling, after all, and there was nothing Cynthia could do about it.
"Do I really need to answer that?"
"It would be rude, if you didn't."
Cynthia groaned in exasperation. "You're just as bad as the paparazzi, Heather – no, you're even worse. I hope you know that."
Heather smirked mischievously. "Yeah, but I know you still love me for it."
Before Cynthia could get in one last quip, their attention was averted when they both suddenly heard a ringing noise. From within the confines of her coat pocket, Cynthia took hold of her phone and brought it out to see who was calling her. Her eyes widened.
"It better not be Grandma," Heather said with apprehension. They still hadn't found Shinx and having to explain the situation to her would send the old woman in a frenzy.
"It's just Steven," her sister reassured her, smiling. That was enough for the brunette to let out a sigh of relief as watched her press the device against her ear. "Hey, it's me…"
Heather waited and listened in on the bits of words that came out of the Sinnoh champion's mouth as she spoke to the man on the other end. And by the way her expression had brightened with utter joy and satisfaction, she could tell that there was good news to be told.
Once Cynthia ended the call, she let out a breath of relief and turned to Heather with a bright smile.
"Let's go, Steven said he's found him."
The two sisters met back up with Steven at a point on the main path. They saw the young man waiting for them, no doubt holding the small pokémon in his arms, alongside the two flying-types who had returned from their extensive aerial search. All the worry that had filled her ever since she had entered the gardens was swept away once she saw that her grandmother's pokémon was safe and sound with her sister's boyfriend. Steven gave Shinx to Heather and with a sigh of relief, she hugged the pokémon close to her.
"You have no idea how crazy we went looking for you!" Heather reprimanded the electric-type. It only replied by licking her cheek, which gave out a small laugh from her, in the end. "I'm so glad you're okay… But don't ever make us do that again!"
"Where did you end up finding him?" Cynthia asked Steven.
The former champion nodded towards their flying pokémon with a smile. "They alerted me when they came down and I followed after them to a small area surrounded by bushes that would have been lost from our sight if it weren't for their help. That's where I found a family of Bidoof, some injured, and this little guy all huddled together. Seems like Shinx has a good sense of hearing to have heard their cries from that far away."
That bit of information caused the blonde to look at him sharply. "Wait a minute, there are injured pokémon in the area?! Take me to them, we have to help!"
He placed a gentle hand on hers when she gripped his jacket instinctively. "Relax, it's already taken care of," he assured her in a softer tone. "Luckily, your Togekiss was there to use Wish to help heal the Bidoof who'd been hurt. No need to worry."
Cynthia's expression softened when she let him finish. She turned to her Togekiss with a grateful smile and stroked its neck lovingly. "You are an angel, Togekiss, thank you." Her pokémon nuzzled her cheek with its face in response. She then turned back to Steven, who was staring at her curiously. It was immediately after she leaned up to kiss him on the cheek that he felt his cheeks glow red from a sudden wave of heat and embarrassment within him. "And thank you for finding Shinx and helping those poor pokémon out safely."
With a small smile, Steven cleared his throat nervously while his cheeks were turned a rosy pink colour. "I don't…Don't worry about it, I was happy to help," he managed to say, choosing to look anywhere but directly at her if he wanted to maintain a straight face in front of her.
Meanwhile, not even four feet away from where they were standing, Heather watched the whole exchange occur with slight discomfort. Seeing her sister showing open displays of affection like that to her boyfriend was worthy enough to make her cringe (but also made her melt at how adorable it played out, except she wasn't about to admit any of that). It was like they had forgotten she was still even there!
However, if there was one thing she was able to deduce – which amused her immensely - over what she had just seen…
…was that her sister had the man so whipped. Whether they knew it or not, Heather found it completely hilarious, otherwise.
Deciding to make her presence known to them, she cleared her throat obnoxiously loud to catch both their attentions. They looked at her and almost immediately, colour arose on both of their faces.
The brunette smiled devilishly towards them both. "I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but we should probably get going before Grandma starts to worry," she told them as she clutched the small pokémon to her chest. Both their reactions were priceless, to say the least.
Fortunately, Heather had already started to walk ahead of them before she was able to hear their incoherent words of agreement.
To start, I made another status update on my profile. See 03-01-2014 for details.
Yeaaah, so I really wanted to explore what I could do with Heather's character a little more in this, which is why I chose to make a lot of it told through her view, in case any of you were wondering why this one was different. But it seems I might have gotten a little carried away with the word count, haha…
I think this chapter holds the most dialogue I've ever written for a single chapter thus far, too. Still, I like how it played out in the end. A happy author makes for happy readers (I hope!). Thanks for reading!